Couple revel in 70 years of marriage

By Lin Ferguson

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GRAND PAIR: Lorraine and Alan Burnet, both aged 95, have been married more than 70 years.
GRAND PAIR: Lorraine and Alan Burnet, both aged 95, have been married more than 70 years. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

Lorraine and Alan Burnet are an impressive couple.

They are both 95 years old and have recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Both are Whanganui to the core - "Wouldn't want to live anywhere else," they say.

Alan went to Wanganui Collegiate and Lorraine was at Girls College.

They laugh when they say they always "sort of" knew each other through their mothers and other "various aunts and uncles".

They got together when their mothers organised a school dance above McGruer's drapery store on the corner of Guyton St and Victoria Ave in the small ballroom.

"Really it was a bit like an arranged marriage ... I suppose," Alan said.

The couple married in the Collegiate chapel in 1946 and until 1964 Alan was the manager of the Wanganui Chronicle.

Lorraine's grandfather James Young and later her father Lionel had also managed the Chronicle.

The couple lived in Wellington from 1964 where Alan was at the helm of The Dominion, before heading Independent News Papers Ltd.

They have a daughter Elizabeth and a son Robert.

They say they have always been the best of friends and that's probably the secret of their long and happy marriage.

They are still living in their large family home overlooking Virginia Lake and leaving would be a heartbreaking wrench, they said.

Lorraine said while they both have their health they'll stay on.

"We do think about a retirement village but that's all we do. So far we're fine, we're very lucky but we do have help obviously," Lorraine said.

The house is surrounded by spectacular gardens and lawns cared for by a team of gardeners and they have a live-in assistant who cooks their evening meal.

Alan was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) and recognised in 2008 as one of the business laureates to be inducted into the Fairfax Media Business Hall of Fame.

It has been widely reported that it was Alan who ultimately changed the course of newspapers.

News reports have said he became managing director of the Wellington Publishing Company and moved quickly to protect The Dominion against possible takeovers by a series of skilful mergers and acquisitions that formed the basis of what would become INL - the biggest media group in the country.

He served the newspaper industry as a director and two-term chairman of the New Zealand Press Association, New Zealand's Reuters trustee and alternate director on Reuters Holdings.

He was also chairman of the Communications Advisory Council to the government and trustee of the Sir David Beattie Chair of Communications at Victoria University of Wellington.

They said they are both well aware of each other's "magnificent worth".

"We never argue and I can honestly say that," said Alan.

"He listens so well," Lorraine smiled.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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