Queen's message crowns anniversary to remember

A SOUTH Queensferry couple have celebrated 60 years of marriage with a surprise message from the Queen.

Alec Bryant, 84, met Edith Hargreaves, 80, at a dance in the Rosebery Hall when he was stationed at Port Edgar naval base in 1948.

Though they were both engaged to other people, they decided to stay together after meeting just once.

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Alec caught sight of his bride-to-be at the cloakroom and waited for her at the bottom of the stairs.

"My friend was at the dance and I thought, 'I'll just catch the last few songs'," said Edith, known as Edie.

"I don't know how he did it but Alec was there waiting for me. He asked me to dance and that was it."

The couple married on 10 April, 1950 in St Margaret's Church, Queensferry.

A year later, Kent-born Alec, who was at the D-Day landings and has since visited Normandy for anniversary celebrations, left the navy and became an electrician at Rosyth dockyard.

He worked on the electrical parts of the Forth Road Bridge from 1960 to 1963.

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Meanwhile, Edie travelled into Edinburgh to work in Princes Street.

There she sold dresses to the Capital's high society at Pemburthry's, which later closed down.

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As the couple settled down they had five children between 1951 and 1962: Gillian, Carol Ann, Terry, Kenneth and Billy. The home grew louder still as they were given 17 grandchildren, then six great-grandchildren.

"It was always busy," said Alec. "There was always something on the go with boyfriends and girlfriends in and out the door!"

The family still live locally, and the couple celebrated their anniversary at eldest Gillian's home in Queensferry on 10 April with food, wine and singing.

A message from the Queen, meanwhile, was the biggest gift for Edie.

"My daughter had to sneak out a copy of the marriage certificate," said Alec. "It was a total surprise for her when it arrived on the day."

Alec said the secret of a happy marriage was trust – and not getting under each other's feet.

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"Some people are too much in each other's pockets," he said. "I'll work alone in the garden in the mornings then we'll spend the afternoons together going out.

"Our bus passes are some of the best used in Queensferry. We love being spontaneous – sometimes we'll just stand at the end of the road and take the first bus that comes."