Sharing the faith has proved a strong bond for a Pinxton couple who have just celebrated 60 years together.
Diamond couple, Arthur and Maureen Bentley, put their successful partnership down to maintaining a sense of humour over their six decades and having a strong foundation filled with caring family and friends.
The couple met at St Michael’s Church Hall dance in South Normanton when they were both teenagers. It was across the room that Arthur spotted Maureen and asked her to dance.
“I went out with Maureen’s cousin first but then I asked Maureen out and here we are today,” said Arthur who began his working life as a mining engineer at Blackwell Colliery. “I remember us dancing to Jimmy Young’s song Teenagers in Love and here we were.”
Maureen was just 16 and two years later the couple tied the knot on 5th September 1953 at St Michael’s Church.
“It was a memorable year not just because we got married but also because it was the Queen’s Coronation, the year Edmund Hillary climbed Everest and when Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, died,” remembers Arthur who sang in the church choir where Maureen served as a Sunday school teacher.
Their wedding reception was held at Hillcote Church Hall and the couple hired a coach to take their guests to the venue where much of the food was purchased still from rations.
The couple took lodgings in Westhouses before buying therir first home in South Normanton a year later where they remained until 1970.
Arthur spent 10 years at the pit until he switched careers and retrained as a teacher.
“I preferred people to machines,” added Arthur who retrained at Huddersfield, working briefly in Mansfield before securing his position as head of science at Selston’s Matthew Holland.
Meanwhile Maureen was busy raising their two sons, Stephen and Peter. As they left school, Maureen returned to study for a degree in education going on to become a primary school teacher at Bagthorpe.
“I didn’t get many qualifications when I first left school but after the children had grown up I decided to become a teacher too,” said Maureen. “I even did a spell as a supply teacher at Matthew Holland with Arthur.”
The church has remained at the heart of this couple and their involvement has never waivered over the years with time spent as wardens, choir members and also as youth club workers.
“At one of our celebration parties some of our old youth club members came along and it was wonderful to see them again,” explained the couple whose house is filled with cards and flowers from family and friends as well as a momento from the Queen.
In their retirement and after Maureen had a serious operation, it caused the pair to re-evaluate and pushed them to travel more.
“We have now been all over the world from Canada to New Zealand and Australia,” remembers Arthur. “And we will be revisiting Venice and the Adriatic soon for a cruise to celebrate our diamond year.”