Real Lives: Language of love was all this diamond duo needed

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A couple who met in an Edinburgh cafe will be celebrating their diamond anniversary this weekend.

John Rodden, 80, a former dock worker, and his wife Irene, originally from Montaquila, Italy, were married at St Mary’s Church, Leith on April 16, 1952.

The couple, who live in Lochend Quadrant, met when John spotted Irene working in a Leith cafe.

“When I walked into the shop I saw her big brown eyes and that was it,” said John. “She stood out a mile.”

Although it was love at first sight for the couple, there was the initial problem of the language barrier. “I couldn’t speak any Italian, and Irene didn’t know much English, so that was a bit of a problem,” John said.

Despite this challenge, the couple soon married and began to build their family, with a daughter Maria, and eight years later another daughter Bernadette.

After working on the docks, John enjoyed a brief stint working at Holyrood Palace, before becoming a lollipop man outside St Mary’s School in Leith.

Although taking a few part-time jobs after she was married, Irene left work to look after the family.

Irene, who John describes as “the best mum going”, still enjoys cooking for her family, who are only too happy to enjoy her Italian meals.

The couple, who still enjoy spending time together, and have travelled to Italy, France and Switzerland, have in recent years opted to spend more time at home with their family of four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

However, as Irene’s sister, Filomena, and other relatives still live in Italy, John isn’t ruling out any more trips.

Although Irene was granted her British citizenship soon after the couple were married, it took John until the couple’s golden wedding anniversary to apply for and receive his Italian passport, which he described as, “a great honour”.

A passionate Hibs supporter, John still attends games at Easter Road, now with the addition of three of his great-grandchildren, who sit with him at games.

John, who will enjoy a meal and a night in the Balmoral Hotel this weekend with Irene, organised by their two daughters, said: “She [Irene] is still beautiful to me. We’re very lucky, we have a great family and we’ve had a great life. We’ve had a good kick at the ball.”