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Gallery: Ken and Joyce to celebrate 70 years of laughter


Ken and Joyce Crouchman’s family have a few surprises in store for their 70th wedding anniversary celebrations, including something from their beloved Newcastle Knights.

The Nords Wharf pair, who will hit the marriage milestone on 3 May, have already begun celebrating a lifetime of togetherness.

Special dinners, a Nelson Bay getaway and an afternoon tea will all feature on a month-long itinerary designed to celebrate a marriage they say is based on laughter.

“We never go out in a car, or to bed, angry,” Joyce says.

“We always kiss goodnight and always laugh with one another.”

In fact, son Christopher, who lives in a granny flat on the couple’s property, says the duo laugh so much that they make their dogs start barking at all times of the day or night.

Not much has changed since Ken and Joyce met as teenagers in 1948 at a local dance in Essex, UK.

Then aged 15 and 16, it was a cheeky line from Ken during a bus ride home from a dance that they first connected.

“I told her I had a sister and that my sister would like to know what lipstick she had on and could I try it on,” laughs Ken.

“I can still remember saying that.

“I don’t have a sister by the way.”

Obviously his charm worked its magic on Joyce because four years later the loved-up couple were married in a simple ceremony at a church in Cherry Tree.

“Ken had enlisted in the Air Force and we decided to get married before he was sent away to serve,” Joyce says.

The date was 3 May 1952.

Dressed in smart suits, wearing simple floral arrangements and with Joyce carrying a horseshoe good luck charm, the pair said their I-dos before family and friends.

“It was a simple wedding,” Joyce told the Newcastle Weekly.

“No one had much money back then.”

Ken would leave soon after to work as an aerial photographer with the RAF, a role he would perform for another year, while Joyce gave birth to their first child Lesley.

It was this skill that caught the eye of then editor Ita Buttrose, who arranged for Ken and his new young family to immigrate to Australia under the employ of the Australian Women’s Weekly.

The boss of the iconic fashion magazine would then rely on his talent as a photogravure printing specialist until his retirement.

“I could work all hours and if Ita needed a photo fixed she’d ask me to work anytime of the day or night. She was a perfectionist,” Ken says.

And while Ken worked, Joyce continued with her other love.

A reputed tap dancer in her youth, she continued to teach physical culture to youngsters of all ages and abilities.

In fact, as she approaches her 89th birthday, she is still teaching the unique form of exercise.

Joyce can even boast that her classes of dancers performed on stage at the Sydney Opera House.

“My parents always told us to find a job that you love so that you never feel like you’ve worked a day in your life, that’s always been their motto,” daughter Kerrilyn says.

And while work continued to pay the bills, Joyce admits when Ken’s three-year contract to Sydney was extended beyond its allotted time frame, she became terribly homesick for the United Kingdom.

“I was one of nine and I often missed my family,” she said.

“Some came to Australia to visit over the years, but none of them stayed long.”

Committed to their new country, the pair immersed themselves in several volunteer roles, even serving at the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics as team leaders.

They also travelled extensively within Australia with their three children, adventures that led them to purchase an onsite caravan at the Swansea Caravan Park.

Then, after officially retiring, the allure of Lake Macquarie was too strong and Ken and Joyce bought a home in Nords Wharf, where they have lived for 35 years.

They are blessed to have their three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren all “within arm’s length”.

“We love it here, this is home,” Joyce says. “And we love our Newcastle Knights, we get to as many games as we can.”

There is no doubt the pair would have always been watching the Novocastrian team from the stands, with joined hands.

“We always hold hands, that’s another secret to a long marriage,” Joyce says.

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