Love of 60 years marked on apt day

John and Andrena Hattrill, of Owaka, celebrate 60 years of marriage this Valentine's Day. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
John and Andrena Hattrill, of Owaka, celebrate 60 years of marriage this Valentine's Day. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
If there were a fail-safe way to remember your wedding anniversary, it would surely be to marry on Valentine's Day.

But ask Owaka man John Hattrill (78) whether it has kept him out of trouble during his 60 years of marriage to Andrena (77) and, with perfect comic timing, he pauses and gives a rueful smile.

''... You'd think so, wouldn't you?''

The Hattrills on their wedding day, February 14, 1959. Photo: Supplied
The Hattrills on their wedding day, February 14, 1959. Photo: Supplied
Despite his half-hearted protests of amnesia, Mr Hattrill made sure he was prepared for his diamond wedding anniversary this year by paying a floral visit to Matau Garden Centre in Balclutha yesterday.

While there, the couple shared insights and memories from their life together, which had begun in classic romantic fashion after a meeting of eyes across a ballroom in 1957.

''A lady had come along from town to run a ballroom dancing class in Mataura, where we both lived,'' Mr Hattrill said.

''Well the teacher got a bit toey when I kept stepping on her feet, but luckily Andrena didn't seem to mind.''

Mrs Hattrill nodded in agreement: ''It was love at first sight.''

Both were just 16.

Like the best love stories, the union was not without obstacles.

Everyday hard work intervened for the carpenter and H & J Smith shopgirl, and there were initial ''misgivings'' from family members concerning their youth.

Having emigrated from Kent not long before meeting Andrena, Mr Hattrill was a young man who knew his mind.

''John would pop round on his scooter to see me and, early on, he very formally asked Mum and Dad if he could take me out. Because he was independent and so seemed a bit more mature than his age, I think they thought he was about 20, and said yes.''

Wedding bells pealed some 18 months later, at the East Gore Presbyterian Manse.

''It was a joyful occasion. But the funny thing was, because we were so young, we then had to go to court in order to get a mortgage. It was fine to get married, though.''

Funds secured, Mr Hattrill built their Mataura home, in which the couple brought up a ''happy, healthy'' family of five, before retiring to Owaka in 2000.

Seventeen grandchildren and ''20-and-counting'' great grandchildren later, a smiling Mr Hattrill said they were starting to lose count.

''They said go forth and multiply ... well, we took them at their word.''

Most of the family would be present at an anniversary meal in Gore this weekend, together with friends.

Despite suffering both a stroke and heart attack during the past eight years, Mr Hattrill retained a cheerful outlook.

In an instant, another mischievous smile lights up his face.

''Sixty years doesn't feel like anything to me. Of course, Andrena might see it a bit differently.''


5 Keys to a Lifetime of Love

On their diamond wedding anniversary, John and Andrena Hattrill share their secrets for a long and happy marriage.

1. Be flexible. Bend with circumstance and know when to give in.

2. Stick to your values and always support the other’s.

3. Live within your means.

4. Do not look over the fence. The grass is never greener.

5. Take pleasure in simple things. Time with your family is worth more than any amount of money.

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