Chance meeting at dance sparked 60 happy years

Peter and Betty Melville's wedding at St Francis Church, Niddrie, in 1951
Peter and Betty Melville's wedding at St Francis Church, Niddrie, in 1951
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A couple are celebrating 60 years of marriage, after meeting at a dance where he was on another date.

Peter and Elizabeth Melville, from Gilmerton, are due to mark their diamond wedding anniversary on September 22 with a party at their local bowling club.

Peter and Betty Melville

Peter and Betty Melville

On the night they met, in February 1951, Peter, 82, was meant to be meeting another girl at a dance in Fountainbridge. But he decided he preferred the “cracking” blonde next to her.

Peter, who was on leave from the army at the time, said: “I was supposed to meet this girl at the dance, but there was this big, beautiful blonde next to her and I thought to myself ‘What a cracker’.

“I went up to the girl I was supposed to meet, and got talking to them both, as they were friends.

“I knew the buses stopped at 10pm so I got a taxi for the three of us and we dropped her off at Niddrie Mains before carrying on to Niddrie. We both lived around the corner from each other, but we’d never met before. We went out the very next day and saw each other every day for three weeks until I had to go back to the army base, in Inverness-shire. I was a Seaforth Highlander. Every leave after that I saw her.”

Mr and Mrs Melville met every time he was back on leave, until they got married in September 1951 after he proposed a month earlier.

The pair married at St Francis Church, in Niddrie, and moved into the army barracks at Fort George after a week’s honeymoon in Glasgow.

Their first son, Peter, 58, was born at the barracks, followed by daughter Denise, 56. In 1954 they bought a house in Gracemount, where son Douglas was born and where they lived for 40 years until they moved into their current home.

Mr Melville explained that he “did a bit of everything over the years”, including being a lorry driver, train driver and a funeral director. He retired from the latter job in 1997.

To celebrate the milestone, Mr Melville said they had organised a party and buffet for 150 friends at Gilmerton Private Bowling Club, where the couple go dancing every Saturday.

Mr Melville said: “We go on a Tuesday so that Betty can play bingo, which I absolutely hate, so I’m forced to sit and have a drink until she’s finished. We like to go dancing on Saturday nights, where we particularly like ballroom. The guy who plays the music is a friend, so we always get a quick step.”

When asked what the secret of a long and happy marriage is, he joked: “I always do what I’m told. There’s only one boss in my house.

“No, we are good pals. Lots of people I know only marry for two to three years, and I always think it’s interesting that the bigger marriages seem to last less. We’ve always stuck together.”

The party will also be attended by the couple’s three grandchildren, Ros, Douglas and Steven, and two great-grandchildren, Leah and Archie.