Clocking up 120 years of marriage - double wedding celebration

Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).
Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).

A mum and dad and their daughter and son-in-law have racked up 120 years of marriage between them.

James and Jean Whitaker will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day, less than a month after their daughter Sheila Leith and her husband John celebrated their golden wedding.

Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).

Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).

Mr and Mrs Whitaker met as teenagers while attending night school classes at Wakefield Technical College and began courting.

They split up shortly afterwards but rekindled their romance after meeting up again in a cinema queue.

But within two years, the Second World War began and the couple were forced to be apart again as Mr Whitaker served in the Royal Airforce. He spent two years in Burma as a wireless operator sending Morse code messages.

Back home, Mrs Whitaker took up work as a telephonist for the National Fire Service.

Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).

Sheila and John Leith have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (19th Jan) and their parents Jean and James Whittaker are celebrating their platinum anniversary (14th Feb).

Whilst chess and horse racing enthusiast Mr Whitaker was abroad, she asked for special permission to marry on his return.

He arrived back in England on February 10 1946 and they married four days later at St George’s Church in Lupset.

The couple, now both in their 90s, went on to have two daughters Sheila and Pauline, as well as two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mr Whitaker said the secret to their happy marriage was “having our own space and a few arguments to keep the days interesting”.

Mr and Mrs Leith celebrated their 50th anniversary in the Caribbean on January 19.

They met at the Savoy Bowling Alley in June 1963, when they were both teenagers. And they married three years later at St George’s Church.

Mr Leith worked as a photographer for West Yorkshire Police and Mrs Leith spent most of her working life as a project manager at Wakefield Primary Care Trust.

They are both members of the Friends of Walton Library group and have helped in the development of the Walton Neighbourhood Plan.

Mrs Leith said the entire family got together to celebrate their platinum and golden milestones.

She said: “It gave us an opportunity to all meet up as a family for a meal.

“It was lovely that mum and dad and John and I were able to celebrate such big milestones together.

“It’s a year of celebrations for us as John and I both turn 70 this year too.”