Couple celebrate a lifetime of love

Robert and Susan Erskine were married in 1937. Picture: Greg Macvean
Robert and Susan Erskine were married in 1937. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Scotland’s oldest married couple have celebrated their 78th wedding anniversary.

Robert and Susan Erskine, from Bo’ness, were married on January 1, 1937, exchanging their vows on the first day of the year because it was the only one their families could get off work to attend the wedding.

The ceremony was followed by a quiet lunch, with soft drinks, a few songs and Mrs Erskine on the piano.

Now Mr Erskine, 103, and Mrs Erskine, 102, have celebrated 78 years of marriage with a family get-together.

The couple first met in 1932 at a dance in Carriden Parish Church, in their home town. It was love at first sight.

“He wasn’t as good a dancer as me,” said Mrs Erskine. “But he was what I wanted.”

They courted for five years and married two years before the outbreak of the Second World War, when Mr Erskine joined the Royal Signals and was posted to Egypt, then Iraq.

While he was serving in the army, he wrote to his wife almost every day. She recalled: “I never wanted him to leave. It was just so wonderful when he came home to us.”

When the war was over, the couple moved to Edinburgh, where Mr Erskine worked as a joiner and Mrs Erskine as a fabric machinist.

They moved back to Bo’ness 25 years ago.

The couple had two sons and a daughter – Margaret, now 72, who lives in Linlithgow; Bill, 75, who is in Surrey, and Bobby, 58, who lives in Northampton.

They also have six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, the most recent of whom was born only four months ago.

As the family gathered to celebrate, grandson Mark Ewen, 42, said: “With grandad and grandma at one end and my cousin’s new son, Jack-Hugo, at the other, it adds up to quite a family dynamic. It is astonishing to think that the oldest and youngest members are separated by more than a century.

“Grandad and grandma are quite simply the most amazing, inspirational people, and have always been an example to all of us in the family.”

The couple did not spend more than a day apart from the time of Mr Erskine’s return from the war until October last year, when Mrs Erskine moved into a nursing home.

In his younger days, Mr Erskine was a keen cricketer and rugby player, as well as an enthusiastic gardener who grew his own vegetables.

Mrs Erskine sang in the church choir until recently.

The couple believe their teetotal, non-smoking lifestyle has contributed to their longevity. But healthy eating cannot explain their enduringly happy marriage.

Mr Erskine said: “It is all about compromise and allowing the other person in your life to be the person they want to be.”