Diamond duo recall happy family times

Geof and Joan Laker, with the card they received from the Queen PICTURE: MIKE JEFFERY
Geof and Joan Laker, with the card they received from the Queen PICTURE: MIKE JEFFERY

RELATIVES and friends joined Lancing couple Geof and Joan Laker for a party to celebrate their diamond wedding.

There were more than 50 guests at Lancing Royal British Legion, in Culver Road, and among the many cards was one from the Queen.

On their wedding day, at St Helen's Church in Hangleton on August 6, 1955

On their wedding day, at St Helen's Church in Hangleton on August 6, 1955

The couple spent most of their married life in Shoreham and Geof descends from two old Shoreham families. His maternal grandfather was Joe Young, one of the last ferrymen on the River Adur, and his paternal grandfather was a fisherman who regularly went over to France for his catches.

When Geof was 16, he went to join the Navy but he could not go in until he was 17, when he was sent out to the Far East on HMS Unicorn, a frigate from the Crimean War.

Joan, who lived in Hove and worked at Mullard’s factory there, said: “He came back just before Christmas in 1953.

“I was coming out of Pickwick’s Café, where Boots is, and he said he had been looking for me all evening.

“I didn’t know who he was but I worked with all the Shoreham girls and they knew him. They were all saying about Geof coming back home. He was quite a dashing chap.

“I said ‘I don’t know you’ but we got on the same bus.

“We started going out together and when we got engaged, we bought a £3.50 gold and white sapphire ring from Aladdin’s Cave.”

They married at St Helen’s Church in Hangleton on August 6, 1955. Their first home was one room, then they moved to a flat before Geof was posted to Scotland. Their first daughter, Angela, was born nine months later, followed by Paula in 1959 and Mark in 1963.

Geof was on HMS Albion for three months, so Joan spent some time with relatives in Lancing. Just before Angela was two, they were given a council house in Williams Road, Shoreham, then the family moved to Mansell Road, Shoreham, when Mark was one.

“We had great fun with all our friends there,” said Joan. “It was like one big family.”

After Geof left the Navy, he had a number of jobs, including at Shoreham Cement Works, on the docks, driving lorries, at Beechams and finally Edwards.

“He used to do three jobs at once to help the family,” recalled Joan.

She, meanwhile, worked in metal components before being made redundant and later worked for Adur District Council in finances.

The couple, who have six grandchildren and one great grandchild, were long-standing members of Shoreham Royal British Legion and now belong to Lancing Royal British Legion, having moved to Amberley Court, Freshbrook Road, Lancing, nine years ago.

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