Real lives: Soulmates set to celebrate 70 happy years together

Margaret and Robert Stoddart.

Margaret and Robert Stoddart.

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Two soulmates are set to celebrate a very special wedding anniversary.

On May 8 it will be 70 years since Robert and Margaret Stoddart, who are both deaf, married at Albany Deaf Church.

Margaret, whose maiden name is Lavin, was born deaf while Robert lost his hearing after he contracted rubella at the age of seven.

They were both educated at Donaldson’s Hospital, which was mainly for deaf children, before Margaret asked her would-be husband out after playing in a netball match she’d invited him to watch.

Their marriage – when Robert was 21 years old and Margaret 18 – was a controversial issue in their families, with Robert’s family being Protestants and Margaret’s being staunch Catholics, despite the pair not being religious themselves.

Robert was the main breadwinner, mainly as a factory worker for Rowntree Macintosh, having previously worked for Rolls-Royce and Wire Works.

Margaret was a housewife but worked part-time in a young children’s home for a period, cleaning and making dinners.

The couple are the proud parents of seven children – four girls and three boys – although sadly two of their sons are now deceased.

They also have 16 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and even three great-great-grandchildren.

All of their children can communicate by sign language. Their first-born, Jean, required special tuition at the age of four as she spoke using sign language grammar, which differs from spoken and written English. Daughter Rosemary’s first memory of using sign language was at the age of two when she asked her father for an egg.

Rosemary said she was unsure what to give her parents as a gift for the landmark occasion.

“What do you get someone who’s been married for 70 years? I’ve no idea,” she said.

She described her parents as “very loving” towards each other. She said they do everything together, rely on each other and are best friends.

Their important day will be spent in the Belleville Lodge care home they share.

However, they will be treated to a slap-up meal later by their family.

Robert – a massive Hearts supporter – used to be both a keen rugby and football player, representing his school in both sports and even playing at junior level in the latter.

Margaret was on her school’s swimming team and still has her name engraved on their commemorative plaque.

The couple remain keen swimmers even at the ages of 91 and 88 years old and go to the pool at every opportunity.