He’s still a ‘bit of all right’ 70 years on

Ray and Liz Bates celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on Wednesday. Photo: John Borren.

After 70 years of marriage together, Brits Ray and Liz Bates wish “everybody could be as happy”.

It was back in England in the 1950s when Ray and Liz’s lives became irrevocably intertwined.

Ray was aged 19 and in the Royal Air Force when he first laid eyes on Liz.

“I would see her in the cinema,” says Ray.

“I would see her straight away and that was it.

"I’ve seen her ever since.”

“I was 15 which was naughty,” says Liz.

“My dad gave him permission to see me.”

And their first impressions of one another?

“He was a bit of all right,” says Liz.

“I was satisfied,” says Ray.

Simple and to the point!

Both Liz and Ray came from big families – with each of them growing up with seven siblings.

With money tight, Ray and Liz had a double wedding with her sister and groom two years after they met on May 22, 1954.

“We were all right with it because we thought of Mum and Dad, and they couldn’t afford anything in them days.

"You had to more or less pay for your own,” says Liz.

Getting married at a church on the same road where they lived in Wickham, Liz says: “Dad was so proud. He had one girl on each arm.”

Ray and Liz Bates on their wedding day on May 22, 1954.

During their working days, Ray worked at a paper mill after leaving the Air Force, and Liz worked most of her career at the Wickham District Council.

“I enjoyed all my jobs,” says Liz.

And among those ‘jobs’ came parenthood.

Starting their own family together, Liz and Ray raised two sons, Michael and Kerry.

Now Ray, aged 91, and Liz, 87, share three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren too.

Within all that is a whole lot of love.

“I love him to bits,” says Liz.

“I’ll always love him.”

“I’ll never go without her – well unless I die,” says Ray.

“Oh stop it.

"Suck it up,” interjects Liz.

“We’ll have to put up with it when it happens.”

The couple do admit they haven’t got through 70 years of marriage without quarrels either, but Liz says it’s all about how you deal with your tiffs.

“We do have our own little arguments – don’t worry, but we never carry it on.

"We say we make it up within that day and say we’re sorry – whoever’s to blame for what or both.”

Ray adds: “You must kiss one another.”

On Wednesday, May 22, Ray and Liz celebrated their 70 married years together with friends and family in Pāpāmoa, where they’ve lived since 2002 when they came to New Zealand.

“We’re very lucky, and we just wish everybody could be as happy,” says Liz.

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