A retired couple who first set eyes on each other at a Heanor dance lesson are celebrating 60 years of married life together this week.
Derek and Kathleen Simms, of Hands Road, in the town, met at Donnolly and Kent’s on Derby Road, when they were teenagers and were married three years later in 1952.
Now in their diamond year together the couple, aged 82 and 79 respectively, have four children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“He was tall dark and handsome,” Kathleen said about first taking a shine to former builder Derek.
“I was always attracted to his shiny shoes and nice clean shirts!”
Derek said he and Kathleen would attend the dance school three times a week and became regular dance partners.
The other nights of the week he would take her to the cinema.
They married at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Hilltop, Eastwood, two weeks after Kathleen’s 19th birthday.
Derek worked as a joiner and carpenter before running his own building firm D Simms and Partners .
Kathleen worked at hosiers Aristoc in Langley Mill before the birth of their first son Paul in 1954. She later went on to work as an auxiliary at Heanor Memorial Hospital.
Throughout their life, the couple have shared a love of holidaying abroad and spending time with their family.
In retirement Derek, a keen sports fan, took up art while Kathleen has concentrated on her love of gardening.
Kathleen says the key to their long lasting relationship is patience. “We have our ups and downs,” she said. “But our love is deep seated, it always brings us back together.”
The couple, who earlier in the year had the chance to meet the Queen, Prince William and Kate Middleton at a ceremony in Nottingham, celebrated their anniversary on July 26, and held a party at their home on Saturday.
asd HEANOR couple Derek and Kathleen Simms have revealed their delight at meeting The Queen, Kate and Prince William upon their visit to Nottingham this week- having been selected to attend a Jubilee reception with the Royals.
Mrs Simms, 78, said: “It was a fantastic day. Never did I think that at my age I would ever get to meet The Queen– but now I have. I can hardly believe it.”
“To have Prince William and Kate there too was just the icing on the cake,” she added.
“They are wonderful together and both took the time to greet everybody there.”
The Simms’ will celebrate 60 years of marriage in July and, unbeknownst to them, family members applied to the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, William Tucker, in the hope that they would be selected for an audience with The Queen at the special Diamond Jubilee reception at the Council House in Nottingham.
They were accepted and the big secret was only revealed when their official invitation arrived in the post.
Mr Simms, 82, also spoke of a brief conversation with Her Majesty that has left him beaming with pride ever since.
He said: “I am a big follower of horse racing and she has horses running at Royal Ascot next week so I thought I would take the opportunity to wish her the best of luck.
“She asked if I was a big fan of racing, which I said I was, and she said ‘Well let us hope that it stops raining for next week!’.
“It was only a brief conversation but it meant so much to me. The whole morning was incredible – a real once in a lifetime thing.
“I’ve never felt more proud to be British.”