“Don’t be too quick to give up....” - that was the message from Nancy and Archie Saunders who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Monday.
The couple met at an aircraft factory in 1940 when seventeen-year-old Nancy took an instant shine to tall, good-looking Archie and persuaded his pal to introduce them.
Their wartime courtshop revolved around ballroom dancing until Archie joined the army to do his bit as a REME craftsman, returning for a precious week in September 1943 to marry Nancy and enjoy a few days honeymoon. The following year he was helping prepare the amphibious tanks ahead of the D-Day Landings and was posted out to India and Burma.
Archie, now aged 92, and Nancy, 89, still remember arriving in Warwick in 1962 without a penny to their name after sinking all their savings into buying a shop, Owens, in Market Place.
At first they didn’t think they were going to make the ladies clothing work.
Archie said: “We took a chance - we didn’t have a pound left after buying the stock for the shop and not a penny in the bank.”
But Nancy’s eye for fashion paid off and Archie’s skills at repairing knitting and sewing machines led to him expanding into the shop next door.
In later years Nancy moved her elegant fashions to new premises, Ann Saunders, in Brook Street, which she ran with her daughter-in-law Sue, while Archie expanded their sewing and knitting machine empire, going on to open new shops in Regent Street and Warwick Street in Leamington which he ran with their two sons, Robert and John.
Nancy said: “Archie and I met at the Spitfire factory in Birmingham and were married at St Barnabas Church in Erdington which was later burned down. But it was rebuilt and re-opened earlier this year and so on Monday our sons and their wives, Sue and Julie, took us back to celebrate our platinum anniversary.
“We have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild and there was a lovely service with the lady vicar asking us to come forward to congratulate us. We’ve also had a card from the Queen.”
Asked what has kept them together so long, Nancy smiles and says: “Love, I suppose.”
But Archie says: “You have to stick at things and not give up too early like so many young couples seem to do today. It wasn’t always easy going for us, we had it hard in our day - especially during the war when we were apart for so long and in those first years in Warwick when we didn’t have any money.”
Today the couple, whose home is on the Woodloes estate, can no longer ballroom dance but both enjoy a laugh together and their different hobbies. Nancy is still a self-confessed ‘shopaholic’ and enjoys crocheting blankets with a church group, while Archie plays the electric organ and often takes refuge in his shed where he repairs old motorbikes.