A FORMER lighthouse keeper and his wife have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.
John and Hazel Boath cut a wedding cake and shared a “first” dance following the service at Nicolson Square Methodist Church, where John is now caretaker.
Originally from Dundee, the couple met at a hat factory before getting married at the city’s register office on January 22, 1963.
They moved to Edinburgh more than 20 years ago when John’s job took him to Bell Rock Lighthouse, off Arbroath, and Hazel settled in the Capital with their sons.
“I used to sail out of Leith so we settled in Edinburgh,” said John, 70. “I was the last keeper on the Bell and I switched it off for the last time 20 years ago. It was a sad day.
“The only reason I finished was because of modernisation, there’s no lighthouse keepers now and if there was I would be straight there.
“We still had to bob on open boats in the winter to get on it and the same thing coming off. There were no helicopters for us.
“When it all stopped the boys were growing up and coming out of school so we thought there was no point uprooting them to go north and so we stayed in Edinburgh.
“I spent eight years working in the mail room at Standard Life and when I touched 60 I had to retire.
“That’s when I came to the Methodist Church. I started when I was 60 and I’m still here at 70.”
John decided to become a lighthouse keeper after watching an episode of Blue Peter back in the 1960s. It featured a special delivery being made to Needles Lighthouse off the Isle of Wight.
“A few weeks later there was a job advertised in the paper,” he recalled. “I came to Edinburgh, did the entrance test and passed.”
John’s first station was at Stoer Head, Sutherland, where the couple spent four years with oldest son John-Paul and their second, Scott, was born.
The family, who also had sons Stephen and Fraser, then moved to a posting at Orkney which was followed by another at Stroma. They had a stint at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, and then moved to Isle of Mann before eventually settling in Edinburgh.
Hazel, 69, raised the children and worked as a typist at various places including for the police at Fettes.
The couple, who live in Granton, enjoyed their anniversary with friends and family including their 11 grandchildren.
John added: “It was a lovely day. There had been snow during the night but by the time we got there the sun was shining.
“All the family were there and that’s what’s important. Living in a lighthouse, there was a lot of time that you spent as a family. Talk always goes back to our days on the various lighthouses. It was a lovely life, we all enjoyed it.”