'Best mates' celebrate 50 happy years together

A couple who spent 17 years as house parents at a council care home are preparing to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

Anne and Douglas Downie ran the care home in Greendykes from 1972, and they plan to celebrate their golden wedding with several of the children who grew up under their care.

Both born and bred in the Capital, Douglas, 73, was originally from Fountainbridge, and Anne, 71, grew up in Colinton.

They met at the Central Dancing School at Drummond Place.

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Douglas recalled: "I asked to walk Anne home and she said no, so I got off the bus and waited at the top of the street for her, no-one had ever said no to me before!"

They went to the cinema, she came to his 18th birthday party a few days later, and they became a couple, marrying on 25 June 1960 at Fountainbridge Church.

They settled in Dundee Street, and Douglas worked first in the printing industry before going on to become an administrator for the Corporation of Edinburgh,. He later became an administration officer for Barnado's, and then company secretary for the charity Family Care.

Anne was an audit clerk in the city centre and then stopped work to have their two children, Lorraine, now 48, and Douglas, 46.

She worked briefly in retail before the couple decided that they would be interested in fostering children, and the social work department suggested they would make good house parents for a children's home.

In 1972 the whole family moved into Greendykes Children's Home, taking on the care of ten children aged between five and 16.

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When they felt it was time for a change, the couple moved to Parkhead and Anne took a job working with adults with learning difficulties. They settled in Carrick Knowe, where they now live, in 1986.

Alongside his professional life, Douglas was also a keen football referee, reaching FIFA status, and refereeing at every league ground in Scotland.

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The couple have three grandchildren, Jennifer, 25, Samuel, 22, and Elizabeth, two.

They will celebrate their anniversary with a party of 140 people at Bainfield Bowling Club, including five or six of the children they raised at Greendykes.

And the secret of their long, happy marriage? Douglas says: "We've always been friends and it's like two pals. Yes, you have your ups and downs but you've got to get over them and you become stronger as you go on in life. It's just a great feeling. We still walk holding hands – she's my best mate."