Horsham couple mark 70 years of marriage

Ernest and Iris Balliger marking the 70th wedding anniversary on May 26 2015 - picture by Anna Coe
Ernest and Iris Balliger marking the 70th wedding anniversary on May 26 2015 - picture by Anna Coe

A Horsham couple have celebrated 70 years of marriage and their secret, they say, is holding hands.

Iris and Ernest Balliger, of Smithbarn, marked their platinum wedding with a party with friends and family.

Ernest and Iris Balliger on their wedding day, May 26 1945

Ernest and Iris Balliger on their wedding day, May 26 1945

They met in 1943 while serving in the war installing radar equipment.

Iris, 95, said: “There were four of us girls and we were told that four boys were coming in. So they came and enjoyed some buns and cake. It was his birthday. I was his 21st birthday present.”

But they had to wait a few months before getting better acquainted as Ernest, 93, was posted elsewhere.

Iris said: “We used to come up to London to go and see a show and one time there were eight of us. They went off and there were just two – Ernest and me.

“He said I’d better go home with him. His mother opened the door and she said any friend of my son’s is a friend of mine. That was all the way through.”

On May 26, 1945, the couple were married in Nottingham. Ernest’s work brought them to London in 1960 and they moved to Horsham in 1983 when they retired.

The pair are so devoted to each other, they have spent little time apart. They are known to many as the couple who hold hands and to this day fall off to sleep with their hands entwined.

They recall times when they listened to music and would often stop their chores and dance together.

Carer Isobel Grindley said: “They are such lovely people. It doesn’t feel like work and I have done this job elsewhere.

“They are so devoted to each other.”

To maintain their closeness, Ernest even became an honorary member of the Women’s Institute to be part of Iris’s hobbies. He used his artistic talent to draw and paint posters for the group’s talks and was also their treasurer.

He said: “I’ve never gone through life thinking how did we do this. It’s just the way we are.”

Iris added “Everything we have had to go through we have managed to go through with ease. We have always been of the same mind. It’s been lovely.”

They have two children, Nick and Verena and three grandchildren, Emma, Ben and James, who were there to celebrate with them at the weekend.

This year promises to bring more celebrations for the family as Ben’s wife Helen is expecting Iris and Ernest’s first great-grandchild.

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