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St Valentine’s lucky in love for north Norfolk family celebrating 122 years wedded bliss

PUBLISHED: 18:27 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 18:27 31 January 2017

Penny Long with husband Graham and family members at her 100 birthday party. PIcture: CAROLYN COGGS

Penny Long with husband Graham and family members at her 100 birthday party. PIcture: CAROLYN COGGS

Archant

When it comes to enjoying a long marriage it helps to have the patron saint of romance on your side.

Graham and Penny Long, from Sheringham, celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. Pictured on their wedding day.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Graham and Penny Long, from Sheringham, celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. Pictured on their wedding day. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Tying the knot on February 14 has provided the start of a combined total of 122 years of marriage for two generations of Norfolk family members.

Penny and Graham Long will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day while daughter Carolyn marks 47 years of marriage to husband Alan Coggs.

For the two couples what is the romantic highlight of the year is always extra special. And for Mrs Long it is set to be another memorable landmark following her 100th birthday on January 21.

She first met 96-year-old Mr Long when he had a cycling accident during a visit to Wales in the late 1930s.

“I was a member of a junior Christian Endeavour group which had provided money to buy stamps so Graham could send letters back home to his family,” recalled Mrs Long.

“When he left hospital he came to thank me, we became friends and it was a friendship that turned into love.”

The couple tied the knot at Newport south Wales in 1942 and enjoyed a brief honeymoon before Mr Long returned to his second world war duties as a wireless operator and air gunner in the Royal Air Force.

Just weeks later his heavy bomber was shot down in a raid over France.

“Only two of us escaped alive from the plane,” said Mr Long. “I was three years as a prisoner of war and then got injured in an airstrike which killed the bloke next to me.”

After the war the couple went on to have two daughters, Carolyn, and Denyse and Mr Long worked as a financial systems manager for British Airways while Mrs Long worked as an accounts clerk. They moved to Sheringham more than 30 years ago to be closer to their family, including two granddaughters Louisa and Libby and great-granddaughters Hermione, nine, and seven-year-old Annabelle.

Mrs Coggs, who married husband Alan on a snowy Valentine’s Day in 1970, said: “It just seemed blindingly obvious to get married on February 14. My parents are an inspiration to realise that you can succeed with a long relationship. It is lucky for us all we had St Valentine on our side.”

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