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Couple celebrate 65-year partnership

Posted on June 20 2008 at 4:59:25

Lily and Derek

When Derek Bourne was 14, he went to work alongside his father at the rubber mill in Stirchley, travelling in every day from Alvechurch.

Around a year later, a young girl was brought in to help him, cutting up his work ready.

“And he’s worked me to death ever since!” joked Lily, now 83, as the couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

It was after working alongside each other for a year that they went on their first date.

“We were 16 when we went to the pictures together and we have been together ever since,” says Derek, now 84.

They were married three years later in June 1943 at Pineapple Church, Kings Heath, but within two months Derek was called up and was away in the Army for five years.

When he returned, aged 24, they lived for a while at Lily’s mother’s then Derek’s mother helped them to buy a home in Redditch.

She owned the terrace in Swan Street, Alvechurch, known as Bug Row, where Derek had been born at number 5. So after a year in Redditch, it was a happy move back to Alvechurch when number 6 became available.

The couple would eventually build a house in the garden, number 29, where they lived until they moved to a bungalow in Brookside Close seven years ago.

It was after the move back to the village that Derek started running a taxi business, which was going well until the Suez crisis brought the return of petrol rationing.

To make ends meet, he worked as the caretaker at the school in School Lane for the next 14 years while still building his taxi business.

“I often had to go on until 4am and Lil would stay up waiting for me with a cup of tea,” he says.

When he took a contract to transport workers for Delson’s in Redditch, Derek bought a small minibus and Swan Street Taxis grew into Swan Street Coaches.

The school connection continued, with Lily taking on the caretaking at the new school for about 10 years until she retired aged 59.

Derek worked until he was 70, when he handed over Swan Street Coaches to sons Stephen and Terry. “I gave everything to the lads on the condition they look after us, and they have been great.”

They now have six granddaughters and five great-grandchildren.

Looking back, Derek and Lily feel it is their ability, discovered when they first met, to work together that has been so important.

“I think it is partnership, I really do,” says Derek. “We are as much in love now as we were when we first met. We have never fallen out, even when we have been really down and out.”

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