Move over Your Majesty – Saddleworth has its own platinum couple

THE Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their impressive seventieth wedding anniversary on November 20 – and there are celebrations closer to home for Saddleworth’s own platinum couple.

Joan and Harry Smith

Harry and Joan Smith, from Denshaw met across a crowded room in a cotton factory more than 70 years ago and celebrated their seventieth anniversary on 14 June this year.

“I used to walk past her every day in the factory,” Harry, 91, said. “She always had her eye on me!”

Eventually they got talking and, after falling in love, Harry popped the big question.

“It wasn’t very romantic,” Joan, 92, said. “He just said ‘let’s get married’ and we did!”

The couple have three sons, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren and have always lived in the same place, just over the hill from Grains Bar and next door to the house where Joan grew up.

Now in their 90s the pair still enjoy an active life, socialising and doing their own shopping.

Joan enjoys knitting, although she doesn’t do it so much anymore, and used to be a keen supporter of Friamere Cricket Club which can be seen from their living room window.

Harry, meanwhile, was a keen Oldham Roughyeds fan, supporting the team closely when they played at Watersheddings.

As well as working throughout his life, he kept pigs on their land and was always a keen amateur farmer.

Recently, they responded to a challenge from the Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Shadab Qumer, to find a local couple who have been together as long as the royals.

So impressed was the Mayor by their enduring love he decided to pay them a special visit, presenting them with a beautiful bunch of flowers and sharing tea and biscuits.

Cllr Qumer, who has been married to the Mayoress, Sobia, for 17 years, asked Harry what the secret to staying together was and his answer was unequivocal.

“I’ll tell you what,” Harry said. “If you do as your wife tells you, you’ll be ok!”

Cllr Qumer said: “It was a pleasure to meet Harry and Joan. They were such a nice couple and a fantastic comedy double act, and you can see they still have fun.

“It was an honour to meet them and hope they are an inspiration to everyone.”

Harry and Joan Smith with the Mayor of Oldham Cllr Shadab Qumer

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