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Seventy sunny years together

Platinum is a metal that is rare and precious, which also describes Alan and Sally Summers’ 70 years of marriage.

The Masterton couple celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary last week with a low-key celebration.

“We had a marquee in the garden for our 65th anniversary,” Alan said. “So we kept this one small.”

Alan and Sally were married on January 31,1953, at Knox Church in Masterton, after first meeting as students at Wairarapa College. Now in their 90s and still living in their own home, Alan and Sally have plenty of stories from seven decades together – such as one from a motel in Hamilton during their honeymoon.

“Early in the morning, there was a knock at the door. It was the cleaner, who said the hot point in our room was the only one in the vicinity and she wanted to plug in the vacuum cleaner. She ran the cord right over our bed and out the door to finish her job,” Alan laughed.

The Summers bought their first car, a Morris Minor, when their third child was a baby, and eventually graduated to a Morris Oxford, which carried them to favourite holiday destinations Taupō and Kāpiti.

Alan and Sally contemplated moving to Waikanae but stayed in Masterton – where they said they were “very happy”.

“We made our own fun and had a great time,” Sally said. “We knew all our neighbours and could walk to families’ houses.”

Alan, originally from remote Ngahape, south-east of Masterton, worked for the local power board for 20 years. “I’d be sent out by myself in the van, up hill and down dale fixing faults, sometimes in the dark with a torch tied to my ladder.”

The electricians’ wives were expected to receive after-hours fault calls at home, when the work phone switched over for the evening. Sally could not leave the house while on this unpaid duty.

Alan later worked for a building company and after retiring, joined a walking group, travelling the country doing timed walks, including marathons.

For 71 years, Masterton-born Sally was the well known face at Saunders Shoes, setting up and running the outlet shop in Queen St.

“Sally is always stopped in the supermarket by people she knows,” Alan said. “She has a good memory for faces but she also had a wonderful memory for people’s shoe size.”

Sally now enjoys gardening, knitting, reading, word puzzles and her daily natters with Alan – a habit throughout their marriage, sometimes over a white wine.

“Since Sally stopped work, we’ve become closer than ever,” Alan said.

The pair, who share a love of pedigree cats, don’t let national politics worry them, saying “what will be, will be”– but still take an interest in local politics.

Relaxing in their sunny conservatory, Sally summed it up: “Alan and I are very lucky to be living here together.” Added Alan: “We can’t stop here forever, but we’ll stop here for as long as we can.”

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