Couple back from Oz to renew wedding vows at Pakefield

IT was the year England celebrated World Cup glory and the iconic Ford Cortina MK 2 took to the road.

Meanwhile, in the scenic surroundings of Pakefield's historic clifftop church, a young Lowestoft couple were exchanging their vows in anticipation of a long and happy marriage.

Six years after their wedding, Richard and Diana Ward emigrated to Australia to begin a new life Down Under.

But this week they were back – to make a special visit to the place where they tied the knot 46 years ago.

The pair, who married at All Saints and St Margaret's church in October 1966, were joined by their friends and relatives as they renewed their vows during a service last Sunday morning.

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Speaking about their return, Richard said it was wonderful to come back to Lowestoft.

'As always, it was overwhelming, but it is lovely,' he said. 'It is lovely to come back because I was born here and Pakefield church was like our second home because we were so involved back then.

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'The changes I have noticed are nice. The old buildings have been preserved and others that needed to go have gone. The shopping has been made a lot easier here too, although I can see parking is still a problem in the town.'

Richard, 68, Diana, 66, first met at a dance in 1964 after he spotted her at The Royal Hotel, Lowestoft.

The couple quickly fell in love and were engaged on Christmas Eve that year.

Despite their whirlwind romance, it was two years before they became man and wife as Diana was forced to wait for Richard to return to England after he was posted by the Royal Navy to an aircraft carrier in Singapore.

Five years later, in 1969, while living in Portsmouth, they had their first daughter Samantha.

But it was not until Richard experienced the sun, sea and outdoor life of Australia during his travels as a sailor that the couple decided to take a chance and emigrate to Australia on a cheap plane ticket.

After emigrating, the couple had a second daughter, Heidi. Richard has worked as a restaurant manager, as a handyman and served in the Australian air force, while Diana has worked in TV advertising and retail.

Today, the couple live on a holiday park at Burns Beach, north of Perth in Western Australia.

'As well as visiting Lowestoft, we have also come to see the headstones of my mum and dad's graves,' Richard said. 'It has enabled me to find some closure after they passed on, which is a happy thing.'

He added: 'Australia was once a long way away but now, with modern communication, people connect to it.

'People have been stopping us in the street in Lowestoft to talk to us, which has been lovely.'

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