Eighty two couples from Yorkshire and beyond renewed their marriage vows on Sunday in a unique and joyful service at Ripon Cathedral for those celebrating their Golden Wedding or an even longer time together!

Lynne and John SlaterHer Majesty The Queen sent congratulations and good wishes to all concerned for a most happy occasion. The Queen was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mr Barry Dodd, CBE, and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Squadron Leader David Dinmore, MBE.

Fifty years ago – in 1967 – Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the Beatles were on the wireless and the first coloured TV programmes had just aired. For some it was the happiest year of their life as they embarked on married life.

Lynne and John Slater from Asenby in North Yorkshire were amongst those who tied the knot in ‘67 – actually celebrating their Golden Wedding the day before the special service.

The couple, who were married at Ripon Cathedral, joined those renewing their vows on Sunday. The service brought back happy memories of their special day: “A week before the service Canon Emmerson, who went on to become Bishop Emmerson, stepped in to marry us,” said Lynne, “I still have his silk handkerchief. He gave it to me because I was so overcome by the emotion of the day.”

Barry and Eleanor Kay, a former Mayor and Mayoress of Ripon, celebrated 51 years of marriage, having been married in 1966.

“Wimbledon was on and one guest was hiding behind a gravestone listening to it on his transistor radio. It was very hot – a roasting day,” said Eleanor, “I think I cried my way through the original service.”

“I think she was thinking – what had she let herself in for!” Laughed Barry, he added: “We feel very privileged to have been here today and to have been invited to read a lesson. It’s wonderful to see all these couples celebrating together – to see so many happy people together in one place.”

The first such service was held at Ripon Cathedral 20 years ago. This year, 50 years on from what became known as the Summer of Love, over 400 people come together to give thanks to God for his blessings upon them.

In his sermon the Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson said: “God is good – and we celebrate that you good people have remained united with each other through a period in our history when marriage has seemed to be under attack.

“1967 was the year many of you were married – along with people such as Raquel Welch (for the second time), Vidal Sassoon, Rupert Murdoch, Elvis Presley and Maggie Smith.  It was quite a year!

“There is much to be thankful for. There is much to celebrate – and your success, your steadfastness over five decades and more can be a source of encouragement and inspiration to younger generations.”