Sheffield couple show mettle to mark anniversary

Eric and Lillian Machen who are celebrating their 70th wedding Anniversary at Beechey Knoll Nursing Home at Richmond
Eric and Lillian Machen who are celebrating their 70th wedding Anniversary at Beechey Knoll Nursing Home at Richmond
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Platinum wedding anniversaries are almost as rare as the metal - but a couple from Sheffield are celebrating reaching the 70-year milestone.

Eric and Lilian Machen, who live in Richmond, celebrated their anniversary in less turbulent times than when they got married.

The couple had been together for a year when Eric was called up for the Army.

They married on Saturday, June 13, 1942, at St Michael’s Church in Darfield.

Two days later, Eric left to fight in Africa. They could not see each other for five years.

The grandparents-of-two were kept apart when Eric, aged 91, moved to Beechey Knoll Nursing Home six months ago when he suffered early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. They were reunited when Lilian, 88, moved in from their home in Stradbroke because she missed her husband too much.

She has a simple explanation for how they made it so far.

“You’ve got to work together and sometimes you have to say you’re sorry,” she said.

Retired bricklayer Eric met Lilian at a dance in Walkley in 1941. Lilian said: “He came over saying ‘where have you been all my life’.”

While Eric was at war, Lilian worked at Keatons, Attercliffe, making ammunition for Lancaster bombers, as one of Sheffield’s Women of Steel.

To mark their platinum wedding anniversary, the couple enjoyed a family gathering at Beechy Knoll with their daughter, Val Ryan, 59, her two children and two grandchildren.