Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Couple wed after 70 years apart

The pair started dating as teenagers during World War II but lost touch. Photo / Getty Images
The pair started dating as teenagers during World War II but lost touch. Photo / Getty Images

"Love is patient" - words uttered at countless wedding ceremonies but particularly poignant for Bernie Bluett and Bob Humphries, who have finally exchanged vows after 70 years apart.

The couple were married at a small ceremony in the village of Pawlett, near Bristol, yesterday (UK time), after a love that has lasted the decades.

It was only recently that they found each other again after Mrs Bluett's daughter put them in touch. Mrs Bluett, who had been living in Christchurch, returned to the UK to be with her long-lost love.

The pair started dating as teenagers during World War II but lost touch after Mrs Bluett's parents, who disapproved of the relationship, kept Mr Humphries' letters from their daughter.

The pair went on the marry other people and Mrs Bluett moved from Britain to New Zealand.

Mrs Bluett's husband died 11 years ago and Mr Humphries' wife died last year.

Mrs Bluett, 87, and Mr Humphries, 89, tied the knot in an intimate ceremony at St John the Baptist Church, with many locals from the Somerset village coming to wish them well.

Reverend Doris Goddard officiated at the wedding with words from St Paul to the Corinthians: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Rev Goddard said church bells rang out after the couple's union and a brass band played as they were cheered out of the church.

The wedding party then went to a local hotel and sat on a lawn in the English summer sun.

"They're probably getting a little bit too old to have something into the evening, they just wanted a nice meal for everybody," Rev Goddard said.

"We toasted them with English sparkling wine, which is what the groom wanted."

The couple would not be going on a honeymoon, preferring just to keep each other's company at their Pawlett home.

"I think they're going to sit peacefully in their garden. She's probably done with travelling."

Rev Goddard said they were the oldest couple she had ever married or was ever likely to.

"One of the nicest things about them is that they're still looking forward, they're not looking backwards to the past and what might have been," she said.

"They both acknowledge that they had wonderful marriages before and they're looking forward. They're pretty special."

Mrs Bluett has previously told the Express the pair remain upbeat about their future together.

"We may only have a year together but it's a year we never had. We are both old, both unwell, but we feel as though we are 18 again. Happiness is everything. Needless to say, he is a hopeless romantic and so am I."

- APNZ

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