70th anniversary couple are just like Romeo and Juliet

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Pauline and John Woolford, from Ballina, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on October 16.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Pauline and John Woolford, from Ballina, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on October 16. Graham Broadhead

JOHN and Pauline Woolford have celebrated long-lasting true love that began with elements of the story of Romeo and Juliet.

Unlike the characters of the Shakespearian tragedy, John, now 93, and Pauline, 90, from Ballina, were young lovers who were able to overcome family pressures to marry.

And they on October 16 celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

John recognised the occasion was "unusual" in that "there aren't many others who have the pleasure to celebrate their 70th anniversary."

"It's the same as the Biblical three score years and 10," he said.

But the start to their relationship was filled with obstacles unique to their time.

It was 1942 - the height of the Second World War- when they met in a cafe in Cheltenham in the United Kingdom. John was in the British army and Pauline, the air force.

They were each there with friends, and John's mates urged him to ask to see the movie guide in a newspaper which the girls at a nearby table were reading.

Pauline was one of those girls.

"I looked at her and fell in love without any further adieu," John said.

They all went to the movies and after the flim, John and Pauline found themselves alone together.

"We found ourselves walking hand-in-hand," he said.

"That was unheard of - we hadn't even been introduced."

They met again some time later at a party.

The trouble was, even though John was in the British Army, he was of German descent and had been born in Berlin as Wulff Scherchen.

And Pauline's parents didn't approve of the relationship.

John, after completing training with the Royal Engineers as a bomb disposal expert, was forced to take an English name.

He took Pauline's surname, Woolford, even though their relationship seemed doomed.

At the time, Pauline quipped that, now they had the same surname, they could be together and others wouldn't know if they were married or not.

John approached the chaplain of his army unit to write to Pauline's parents asking them to at least meet him, while Pauline wrote to her father, telling him that she loved John, but couldn't bring herself to go against her father's wishes.

On the encouragement of the padre, John met Pauline's parents, and they eventually came around to agreeing to the marriage about a year after John first met Pauline.

They have four children, eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.



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