A FORMER Whitchurch mayor and mayoress are this week celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

Barry and Sandra Jackman, of Winchester Street, will celebrated 50 years as a married couple on Friday – but not everyone had faith in them hitting the landmark.

“On the night before our wedding, my father-in-law said ‘I don’t give it a year’,” said Barry.

“Since we did a year, we thought what’s another 49?”

The couple met at a Whitchurch Baptist Church’s youth club in 1966.

After getting engaged on Christmas Eve at Southampton ice rink, they tied the knot in March 1969.

Sandra still remembers the first time they met.

“Barry was driving at the time,” she said. “He had a Morris Minor.

“I hit my knee getting in and said ‘That’s the last time I am coming in here’. But it wasn’t.

“That night he asked if he could give me a lift home. I got in a lot more times after that.”

Having met at a youth club, Barry and Sandra went on to set up a club of their own – one of many experiences they say have helped bring them together.

“If we were to sum up the secret of our marriage it’s because we’ve done everything together,” Sandra added.

One of the couple’s more ambitious projects saw them head to Romania to help after the fall of Communism.

Barry said: “In 1989 when the revolution happened in Romania there were photos of children in their homes in such a state. We felt compelled to help so we went over there.

“We did that for about 18 years, backwards and forwards for about 18 years.

“We helped build two churches over there. Built one and helped with one. A lot of our stuff has been around churches.”

Even more memorable than the many Romania trips was a more recent visit to New Zealand.

Again the church had a role to play. In 1980 two ministers from the country visited Whitchurch on an exchange. Years later, Barry and Sandra returned the favour.

“In 2014, 24 years after they had gone back, we went over. We met up with them – they were still alive.

“We went again in 2018. They were the holidays of a lifetime.

“We always say to other people get on and go out there.”

Both Barry and Sandra say that the church has played a major part of their lives, but it has not quite been the most important.

“We have two lovely children. We’re very proud of our son and daughter,” said Barry.

Sandra added: “That’s what our life is – family.”

The couple will be joined by the family and close friends for a party at the Gill Nethercott Centre today (Saturday) to celebrate their milestone.