Couple tell how they met and fell in love six decades ago.
How do some couples manage to stay together for more than 60 years when so many modern marriages don’t even survive the “seven-year itch”? Retired minister Jack Hughes and his wife, Claire (nee Birtill), shared the secret of their successful 62-year marriage at their cottage at Maranatha Village, Newton Park.
“Like all married couples we’ve had our ups and downs, but we worked through them.
“We are not promised a rose garden when we marry – there will be bad, or hard, times but our faith has seen us through.We married ‘for better, for worse’ and we’ve come out stronger people,” Claire said.
The two agreed having grown up in loving Christian homes made for a firm foundation on which to base their lives.
They attended school in Uitenhage and although Claire was friends with Jack’s younger brother, Reg, at that time, they had not met because of their four-year difference in age.
However, fate decreed that both families moved to East London some years later.
Claire met up with Reg at the beach – only this time Jack was with him. By the end of the day Claire and Jack had a date and their romance blossomed. They were married at St Saviour’s Church in East London on November 15 1952 by the Rev Gordon Tindall.
Jack smiles when asked about his ordination in the Anglican Church. He became a deacon in 1994 and then a priest two years later.
However, this had been a “like son, like father” situation since the couple’s son, John, had been a priest for many years and, before relocating to New Zealand as a vicar, had been the rector of Holy Trinity in Central. They also have a daughter, Gillian, in Johannesburg.
Unfortunately, because of Jack’s deteriorating eye-sight he has had to give up leading services, but Claire still does lay minister duties as she has for the past 15 years, though she has given up sacristan duties.
– Frankie Simpson