They say opposites attract and, in the case of Walter and Evelyn Hassall they stay together too, as the happy couple just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day.
But while Evelyn was an active hiker who still loves the great outdoors, former miner Walter preferred to stay in with a book or the television.
As Walter says: “She does the walking and climbing and I sit around at the bottom waiting.”
The pair met at a dance in Leabrooks when Evelyn was 20 and he was 21 and were married in 1942 at St James Church.
They have lived in Riddings all their lives, before moving to Somercotes five years ago.
Evelyn, 91, was born on Greenhill Lane, Riddings, while Walter, 92, was born in Staffordshire and moved to Alfreton when he was seven months old.
Evelyn worked in a bakery and a tile company before having their son John, who is now aged 67, and lives in Dunstable.
Described by his mother as ‘a busy chap’, John worked for a building firm before retiring to become a primary school teacher and he now runs a painting and decorating business. They have two grandchildren – Adam, 44, and Sara, 43, and four great grandchildren: Lewis, 17, Ryan, 15, Kezia, 13, and Isobel, seven.
After John’s birth, Evelyn worked in the canteen at Riddings iron works, where she “made some good friends there that I’ve still got!” She then spent 18 years working for a Riddings draper, adding: “It wasn’t like a job. It was like a family. They were happy years.”
Evelyn also volunteered as a secretary for the Royal British Legion and met Princess Diana when she came to open the community centre in Riddings in 1994.
Walter worked at collieries in Swanwick, Heanor and Pye Hill and served in the Home Guard during World War II.
They regularly attend the Methodist chapel on Birchwood Lane. Avid walker Evelyn admits that she and Walter “don’t share any interests” as her husband prefers to read, watch television or play bingo.
She said: “He stayed at home. Everybody knows what he does! I used to do a lot of fell walking in Derbyshire and the Lake District. I climbed Scafell Pike when I was 68. I belonged to a walking group at Wingerworth and we used to walk around the Peaks every week. I was very active until arthritis caught me up. I miss it. I was walking until I was 80.”
Despite their differences, she says their long and happy marriage has been based on working together, giving and taking and getting over the odd argument.
Mr Hassall has very specific views. He said: “I think it’s giving in to the wife!
“We have had plenty of rows but they have never lasted overnight. We forget them. We don’t hold a grudge. We have been alright, I think. She says ‘yes!’”
When the News spoke to the Hassalls, they weren’t sure exactly how they were going to celebrate the big day.
Evelyn said: “I dont know what we’re doing. It’s a surprise organised by our son. We’ve just been told we have to be ready at 10am and we’re going to be picked up!”
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