Dancing duo celebrates diamond anniversary

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A Skipness couple who met at a dance, and spent so long dancing at their wedding reception that people had to remind them to leave, are celebrating 60 years of wedded bliss.

Duncan Shaw first met Jean McLaren in Skipness primary school, when Duncan was nine and Jean was eight but it wasn’t until a dance in the 1950s that Duncan, now 85, asked Jean out – ‘maybe after a few hints,’ adds Jean, 84.

The young couple enjoyed going for walks through the glen and it was on one of those strolls in January 1956 that Duncan, a gardener at Skipness Estate all his working life, proposed to Jean.

The following year, on Wednesday July 31 1957 at 5pm, they became Mr and Mrs Shaw, when they were married in Skipness’ Saint Brendan’s church by minister George H Green. Duncan’s brother Willie, now living in Campbeltown, was the best man and Jean’s sisters Janet and Fiona were bridesmaids alongside her little cousin, Margaret.

The new Mr and Mrs Shaw on their wedding day in 1957, outside Saint Brendan's church in Skipness. 50_c32diamond03_wedding
The new Mr and Mrs Shaw on their wedding day in 1957, outside Saint Brendan’s church in Skipness. 50_c32diamond03_wedding

Jean, who trained as a nurse before her marriage, said: ‘My dress was made by a lady called Mrs Thomson, who lived in the village. I got the pattern and chose the material and she did the rest. She was a very talented lady.

‘The only thing I can remember from the wedding was my father having to tell me to slow down when we were going up the aisle.’

The newlyweds held a reception in the village hall after the ceremony. Duncan said: ‘We got caterers in from Campbeltown and a band from Tarbert called the Stonefield Band. Everyone in the village was invited to the dance.’

Jean added: ‘We enjoyed the dance very much – people had to ask us if it wasn’t time we were away yet! We’ve always loved dancing. There are still dances in Skipness and we still go.’

The new Mr and Mrs Shaw honeymooned in England. ‘Jean had a sister in Derbyshire who couldn’t make it to the wedding, so we promised to go and visit her,’ Duncan said, ‘We toured about to other places too, like Liverpool, where we had friends.’

The couple went on to have a son and daughter, born at Craigard maternity hospital, and now have four grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Duncan and Jean still live in the home where they raised their children. ‘We love living here, that’s why we’ve never moved,’ said Jean, ‘We love our village and our church is very important to us.’

‘It’s a great place to live,’ adds Duncan.

The couple, who said it is hard to believe it has been 60 years, received nearly 100 cards from friends and family, and even one from the Queen, to congratulate them on reaching their diamond anniversary.

‘We’ve got very lovely friends here who are very helpful,’ Jean adds.

Duncan and Jean held two parties at their home for their friends and family, one during the day and one in the evening.

‘There must have been about 80 people here altogether,’ said Jean, ‘We had finger food and drinks, it was a really nice celebration.’

Asked if they would share their secret to a long and happy marriage, Jean said: ‘You need to work at it and be tolerant, it’s about give and take.’

 

The new Mr and Mrs Shaw on their wedding day in 1957, outside Saint Brendan’s church in Skipness. 50_c32diamond03_wedding

Duncan and Jean Shaw, with the card they received from the Queen. 50_c32diamond01_duncan and jean