Swimmer Douglas went to great lengths to capture Jean’s heart
Keen swimmers Douglas and Jean Macdonald were in their early 20s when they decided to pool their resources in the search for love and happiness.
Sixty years on, as they celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, it’s a decision that clearly paid off.
The couple, from Colinton, marked the special milestone last month with an overnight stay at their favourite hotel, Crieff Hydro.
They were welcomed by hotel chief executive Stephen Leckie, who presented Douglas and Jean with a card from the Queen, in his first official engagement as the newly appointed Lord Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross.
The couple were working together at the Automobile Association in Edinburgh in the 1950s when Douglas, an accomplished water polo player, discovered Jean’s passion for swimming and diving. He plucked up the courage to invite her to join him at Warrender Park Baths and romance blossoming during their twice weekly visits to the pool.
They were married at Fairmilehead Church on August 15, 1959, and set up home in Colinton, where they have lived ever since. Proud parents of Jenny and David, they also have three grandchildren, Cameron, Claire and Fiona. As a child, Douglas travelled far and wide, following his father’s postings as an RAF Group Captain. The family eventually settled in Blackford and he attended George Watson’s College.
It was after completing his own National Service in the RAF, that he started work and met his future wife. A former pupil of Mary Erskine’s, Jean (nee Anderson) was born in India and, like Douglas, spent much of her early childhood abroad.
During the Second World War, she and her mother were forced to flee Singapore – catching the last boat leaving for Australia – after her father was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in Changi Jail for seven years. Now 85 and 83 respectively, Douglas and Jean have put their swimming days behind them but still share a love of gardening. Until recently, they enjoyed opening their gates to the public, helping to raise money for charity as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme. Douglas, a retired salesman, still mows the lawn, while Jean, a former secretary at St Denis and Cranley and Clifton Hall schools, spends hours keeping it beautiful.
“The love of all things gardening is one of the secrets to our long marriage,” says Douglas. “We still go out every morning to different garden centres for coffee and teacakes and often end up buying plants.”