EXACTLY 50 years ago today Peter and Pat Martin first exchanged wedding vows.
But it could have been very different for the Kenilworth couple as they may have never even met.
Peter explains: “I was living in London and agreed to go on a blind date. At the last minute the woman’s friend pulled out and Pat offered to step but it didn’t happen. Then when we agreed to meet again it went wrong so I thought perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.”
Fortunately for the pair though, it was a case of third time lucky – and Peter will never forget the moment he first met Pat.
Recalling the evening, he laughs: “It was pouring with rain and we pulled up to this bus shelter. I could see her and she was wearing a plastic bag on her head!
“Back in those days the hairstyles were all bouffants and obviously she didn’t want to ruin it – she made quite a first impression on me I can tell you!”
Despite both being in relationships at the time, Peter’s persistence won Pat over and they eventually agreed to start dating.
Five decades on and the couple are now as happy as they were in the early days.
“Initially Peter was working a lot so I only saw him perhaps once a week when the kids were young, which meant it was all very exciting,” said Pat.
“That’s not to say marriage is easy – it’s not. For us it’s been great. Of course nothing is perfect and everyone has arguments but it’s how you come through those rocky patches that determines the strength of your relationship.”
And this relationship was severely tested 23 years ago when Pat was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Given just three months to live, Pat battled on in hospital before finally being allowed home six months later.
And although today (Thursday) officially marks their golden wedding anniversary, the dancing duo plan to finish off the year with a cruise around the Mediterranean.
They have also spent the past 12 months travelling to a host of international dance competitions and are set to return to the Albert Hall – 62 years after Peter danced in the first ever event.
Surprisingly, despite more than 70 years of teaching and competing, Peter insists his proudest achievement was convincing his wife to join him on the dance floor.
“They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and Pat is definitely a wonderful cook,” Peter admits. “But when I started teaching her, I had no idea how good she would be and even to this day she’s still improving.
“I think the secret to a happy marriage is a lot like dancing really – you always have to work things through and try not change the other person too much.
“For us as well it was about finding something we wanted to do together and that is dancing. We’ve had a wonderful marriage and Pat continues to amaze me every day – I’m a very lucky man.”
*Peter and Pat are holding their last ever dance evenings at Stratford ArtsHouse to raise money for The Shakespeare Hospice.
The first event – costing £5 – is set to take place on November 2 from 1.30pm to 4.30pm followed by an £8 evening on December 6 featuring ballroom, Latin, sequence music and non-stop dancing from 8pm to 11pm.
Tickets are available by calling the couple on 01926 511966.