Marriage that blossomed from love at first sight...

Diamond wedding couple, Jean and Leslie Denton, St James's Court, Halifax
Diamond wedding couple, Jean and Leslie Denton, St James's Court, Halifax

THERE’S no such thing as a north-south divide in the Denton household.

Instead there’s perfect harmony. So much so that Jean Denton, originally from Portsmouth and her husband, Leslie, a Halifax “lad” are holding a party today to celebrate their Diamond Wedding anniversary, which was yesterday.

“I walked into the shop where Jean was working and that was it. It was love at first sight,” said Leslie, 84.

“I thought she was beautiful and from the day on I have always called her Blossom because of that.”

The couple now live in Halifax but were married in Portsmouth on March 29, 1952 – the same year Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne.

“I can remember the old King dying and Elizabeth becoming Queen because on the day we went to sort out the wedding, there were police and crowds everywhere. They were taking the gun carriage from Portsmouth up to London for the King’s funeral,” said Jean, who will be 80 on St George’s Day, April 23.

After fulfilling his National Service, serving with the Army Catering Corps, Leslie started work in the grocery business. He was working in Portsmouth when he walked into the small grocer’s on April Fool’s Day, 1951 and first set eyes on Jean. He was 23 and Jean 19. Less than a year later the couple tied the knot on a snowy day at Portsmouth Register Office.

“We didn’t have much money so it was a small affair and we don’t have a single decent photograph of the day either,” said Jean.

“Leslie borrowed his brother’s camera but he didn’t know how to use it. He thought you pressed the button twice so every photo had double exposure and there’s not a single one in focus.”

However, a few months after their marriage, the couple posed, smiling, for a studio photographer.

“I think my family thought I was too young to marry and they were nervous about me marrying a Yorkshireman and coming to live up north but they needn’t have worried,” she said. After their wedding, the couple lived in Calne, Wiltshire for a while, before moving to Halifax to be near Leslie’s family.

Leslie, still working in the wholesale grocery business, got the offer of a job in St Germaine, Paris and the couple looked forward to moving to France but plans went awry.

“I went out first but when I got there, they said it wasn’t possible for Jean to move out to be with me so she was left behind in Halifax for a while until I got my next job,” explained Leslie.

Over the following years, Leslie changed jobs a number of times and the couple moved addresses.

“I used to joke that Leslie would never get a gold watch because he never stayed anywhere long enough and at one point we had seven house moves in just over four years,” Jean said.

The couple have also lived in Southowram and in Greetland where they settled for 44 years before moving to their present home in Halifax.

For a time Leslie worked as a builder and plasterer, almost losing his life in 1971, when he fell from a roof. Jean worked at the former Halifax General Hospital for seven years as a domestic assistant.

The couple have three sons and two daughters – Barry, Linda, Susan, Michael and Keith. Michael and Keith both served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment – Michael for 27 years, eventually retiring as a Regimental Sergeant Major and Keith serving for 24 years and retiring as a Sergeant Major.

They also have 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“Tolerance is the secret to a happy marriage. I tolerate Jean’s southern temper,” joked Leslie.

“And I tolerate his northern ways,” laughed Jean.

“But I wouldn’t swap her for the world,” said Leslie.