28 July 2023

When marriage is still bliss, 70 years on - here's to the happiest of couples

| Sally Hopman
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Couple cutting 70th cake

Oliver and Dot Wilson cut the cake to celebrate 70 years of marriage at their Lyneham home. Photo: Sally Hopman.

“Here’s a good thing,” Oliver Wilson said to himself when he first clapped eyes on Doris (Dot) Ainsley more than 70 years ago.

It was in the small village of Stokesley in Middlesbrough, England, when Oliver cycled past the young Dot – and “decided I was it”, she said.

“It was one of our first dates and I was on my way to work on the bus. I realised that we’d made no arrangements where to meet. All of a sudden I looked out the bus window and saw him.

“I got off the bus then and there – I guess you could say it was love at first sight.”

“My oath,” Oliver, who turns 95 this year, said.

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The fact he lived in the city and she was about 10 miles away in the country made no difference to the couple.

“I always seemed to get the last bus home,” she said.

After courting for about two years, did Oliver go down on one knee?

“No,” joked Dot, 90, “he just threatened me.”

The couple married at the Great Ayton Methodist Church on 25 July 1953.

It wasn’t long before Oliver, a painter and decorator by trade, got itchy feet. The other side of the world was beckoning – and the family signed up as “10 pound Poms”.

Black and white wedding photo

Oliver and Dot Wilson on their wedding day, 70 years ago this week. Photo: Supplied.

Their arrival in Australia in 1964 gave new meaning to the words culture shock, according to Dot.

They were billeted out at Binalong, a tiny village near Yass, to work on a sheep property owned by the Thompson family in return for accommodation.

It was hard going, Dot recalls, what with the dry dunnies out the back, water restrictions, a school house that was made up of two rooms and the wildlife.

But one of their fondest memories of living out in the bush centred around a young poddy lamb called Ringo. The lamb took a liking to Oliver and followed him every time he left the property. Ringo would follow the truck but when the lamb got a little too close to the main road off the property, Oliver would have to scoop him up and take him back to the farm before he could head off again.

Couple holding wedding photo

Oliver and Dot Wilson with their wedding photograph – taken 70 years ago this week, on 25 July. Photo: Sally Hopman.

After a year or so, they moved into Yass, and brought up their young family before making their final move, to Canberra, in 1969.

Oliver worked as a painter and decorator on many prestigious projects in a young, growing capital city, making a name for himself – and the quality of his work – including decorating many of the first embassies.

These days, the couple live in an independent care home in Lyneham, following Oliver’s heart attack about three years ago.

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Their bond, after 70 years, seems ever-strong, often answering each other’s sentences.

“He’s the easy-going one,” Dot said. “I’m the one who can get into a thing. But all I have to do is talk to him and I feel better. He makes things not feel so bad.”

So what is Oliver’s secret for 70 years of happy marriage? “Divorce,” he joked.

“No, it’s like I said when I first saw her, ‘here’s a good thing’. She has always made me happy.”

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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