A couple who left England for Australia in 1960 have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Mr and Ms Bill and Joan Kirby, of Shelly Beach, celebrated 60 years of marriage at their church in Kanwal.
Surrounding them for the milestone were friends and members of their huge family.
They have five children, 23 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.
But Mr Kirby, 82 and Mrs Kirby, 79, almost weren’t married.
“The trouble was Joan’s mother used to read these novels about villains who wore tweed jackets and had moustaches,” Mr Kirby, who wore both, said.
“So she obviously didn’t think too highly of me.”
However, the affable Mr Kirby won over Joan’s mother and married the girl of his dreams in England in 1957.
For the upbeat Shelly Beach couple, their anniversary on the beautiful Central Coast was a reminder that they were doubly lucky.
Mr Kirby said they had dreamed of living in Australia, but when they were married and had children, they thought it would be impossible.
He said: “But one day, Joan came home and said: “do you still want to live in Australia? We can get there for ten pounds”.
The two paid up and moved in 1960.
Despite having two small children, no money and few job prospects, the Kirby’s were happy with their new life.
They settled briefly in Sydney, where they lived in a hostel that was little more than a storage shed, before they moved to Queensland, where Bill found work as a prison guard and sign writer.
In 1994, they purchased property at Shelly Beach, and when Bill retired in 2000, they moved in.
Once again, they reflected on how lucky they were.
Mr Kirby said the highlight of their life together was the wonderful family they started in Australia.
But he joked that there was so many of them that their anniversary had to be a potluck dinner party.
Mr Kirby said he thought the teachings of the Church of the Latter Day Saints had helped their long marriage.
He said: “Other than that, it’s just giving 100 per cent.”
Feb 23, 2017
Bill and Joan Kirby, Shelly Beach.
Tynan King, journalist