Love has never wavered for Levin couple Betty and Edward Bagley, who celebrated 70 years of marital bliss yesterday, quietly with a few family members.

When she was told her youngest son had rung the Chronicle about their milestone Mrs Bagley said, "What did you do that for?" Nonetheless they were happy to talk about their lives.

The couple, who still hold hands regularly, have been in New Zealand 44 years from England and in Levin about 14. Two of their three children — two boys and a girl — live here too. The Bagleys spent many years living in the Wellington region.

Edward (93) is from Liverpool, while Betty (89) is from Birmingham. They met as penpals, through Betty's brother, who was in the army.


"I asked him one day if one of the other guys would like a penpal," said Mrs Bagley. Though they were both determined never to meet up, they did meet when Edward got leave. He was stationed in Germany, and brought Edward along.

Shortly after he was demobbed in late 1947 they became engaged.

"He didn't go home ... he came to Birmingham, got a job and lodgings near where I lived," said Mrs Bagley. In July 1948 they married and in 1974 they moved to New Zealand, where Edward already had a job. The couple still live independently, do their own shopping, cooking and cleaning.

"The only help we get is with cutting the grass." They estimate they spent about a day a week pottering in their garden. Mr Bagley still drives.

They don't have a secret to share about their long and happy life together.

"You've got to give and take in any relationship and we do have our arguments, but they never last long. We do everything together," is all they have to say.