Real Lives: Diamond couple have had world on a string

Margaret and Bill Rarity

Margaret and Bill Rarity

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Marriage has been plane-sailing for jet-setting couple Bill and Margaret Rarity, who have raised a toast after 60 years together.

Bill, 83, and Margaret, 80, of Drumbrae South, were presented with their telegram from the Queen to mark their diamond wedding anniversary on November 24.

Both born and bred in Leith, they have travelled all over the world and have even taken to the skies on Concorde.

The pair met at Henry Robb ship yard in Leith.

Eighteen-year-old Margaret worked in the office while 21-year old Bill – who had just left the RAF – worked in the yard.

“We use to go to the canteen at lunchtime together,” said Margaret. “And we also used to go to the dancing at the Assembly Rooms in Leith.”

A few months later the couple married at South Leith Parish Church in Henderson Street.

The newlyweds set up home at Clermiston before moving to Livingston Village, where they lived for ten years, and then to their current home at Drumbrae, where they have lived for 35 years.

They went on to have three children, Elizabeth, 59, Paul, 55, and Diane, 51, three grandchildren, Paul, 38, Gavin, 30, and Maxine, 22, and two great-grandchildren, six-year-old Elena and Callum, five.

Margaret worked as a civil servant when the children were older, while Bill took a job as an electrician with Wimpey for the oil company Aramco.

She said: “Bill worked in Saudi Arabia for four to six months at a time, but he was gone sometimes for up to nine months. He also worked in Nigeria for a time, which was a bit of a disaster, as it was a police state – it was a bit nerve racking.”

When Bill was away, Margaret filled her time by going to dancing classes.

“We had some really nice holidays when Bill was abroad, we went to America, Canada, New Zealand,” she said. “I loved New Zealand and we were going to emigrate there, but we stayed because of our family ties.

“I never went out to Saudi Arabia – it was too hot for me – and Bill worked in the desert.

“But we went on the QE2 to Bermuda and then to New York.

“We travelled back from New York to the UK on Concorde about three years after it first went in to service – it was very exciting and I really enjoyed it, but I was surprised at how small it was.

“I think I was most impressed with the VIP lounge.”

The couple celebrated their anniversary with family at a dinner in MacKenzies Restaurant in Colinton.

Bill is president of the Stenhouse Scottish Old Age Pensioners, while Margaret still attends tea dances.

Asked what the secret of a good marriage is, Margaret said: “Well, Bill was away abroad so often, and they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder.”