Diamond couple have plenty to show for 60 years of marriage

Cliff and Sheila Downing, from St Ives, with some of the show programmes they collected on their hon

Cliff and Sheila Downing, from St Ives, with some of the show programmes they collected on their honeymoon. - Credit: Archant

xx A couple from St Ives say working as a team is the secret to a long and happy marriage, as they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on Thursday.

Cliff and Sheila Downing, of Fairfields, first met in 1956 at the town’s Free Church Youth Club before marrying just a year later.

“We just got on,” Cliff, 83, who was stationed at RAF Wyton at the time, said.

“There was a big gang of us who used to go around and as you do, you start to pair off.”

While Sheila, 79, grew up in St Ives, Cliff is originally from Manchester but was sent to Cambridgeshire to take aerial photographs of the flood areas onboard aircraft known as Mosquitoes.

After getting married on February 9, the couple travelled to London for their honeymoon, watching West End shows nearly every night including The Pajama

Game, Crazy Gang, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

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And they still have the programmes.

The couple moved into their first home together in Houghton, welcoming daughter Marian in 1957 before moving to Ely.

The pair returned to St Ives in 1965, and have remained in the town ever since.

They retired in 1999 after Shelia worked at Woolworths and Cliff at Cambridgeshire County Council, and now like to spend their time taking coach trips around the UK.

The couple say St Ives, in Cornwall, is a firm favourite, and that for their golden wedding anniversary they managed to squeeze in 10 holidays across the UK in that

year alone.

To celebrate 60 years though, Cliff and Shelia took their family to Centre Parcs and will have an anniversary tea in Bluntisham too.

“There should be my two brides-maids and best man at the party, and that’s something that doesn’t often happen at anniversaries,” Shelia said.

And, although the couple admit to not being able to remember their wedding proposal, they do claim to know the secret to a long and happy marriage.

“Doing as you’re told,” said Cliff.

Sheila added: “You have to work together and both work towards the same aim. You can’t both be right sometimes, and it’s definitely a two-way street.”

The couple have two grandchil-dren, Natalie and Daniel, as well as four great grandchildren, Alfie, Amelia, Ollie and Elizabeth.