70 years of marriage for Coalpit Heath couple

A COUPLE from Coalpit Heath had an extra-special celebration on Valentine’s Day – marking 70 years of marriage.

Doreen and Brian Lealan were married on February 14 1953, and celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary surrounded by scores of family members spanning the generations.

They’ve even had an official congratulations card from King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, and an appeared on the BBC’s Points West news programme.

Doreen, aged 88 and Brian, 91, met at a works dance when they both worked for industrial company William Butlers in Bristol.

They married at Holy Trinity Church in Kingswood, but had to change their wedding plans twice plans – first when Brian was called up for National Service and then when Brian was ill on the rearranged date of February 7.

The big day was postponed a week, only for a huge blizzard on the morning of the 14th to put it at risk again.

Doreen feared the wedding would be cancelled for a third time.

She said: “I thought everywhere and everyone will be snowed in. But thankfully the snowstorm passed, it stopped snowing and by the time we set off they had cleared the roads of the snow and it was OK.”

Brian and Doreen Lealan on their wedding day in 1953

The wedding went ahead, but afterwards Brian had to return to the Army and Doreen returned to live with her parents in Bristol.

She said: “I was working, and obviously Brian was paid for his National Service so we were able to save up and look for a house.

“There was still rationing then – we were all still coming out of the war, really – but it gave us the chance to save up and get our own home.”

The couple had three daughters, and now have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 

Doreen said: “It’s lovely because almost all of the family live close by, so we’re a close bunch.”

One of their daughters, Tracie Bennet, thanked people for their kind messages and all who attended the platinum wedding party at the Miners Social Club in Coalpit Heath.

Doreen says she and Brian have had 70 very happy years.

She said: “We’ve had our arguments the same as everyone, and it’s hard bringing up children, but if you have a row you’ve got to make up – there’s no point holding grudges for too long.

“I think as you get older you get more tolerant, and it’s lovely to get to 70 years.”