A last-minute decision to go to a dance brought together a couple who are now celebrating their golden wedding.
Anne and Derek Moore have lived in Colebrook Road, Wick, for 20 years and are well known in Littlehampton but they first met in February 1967 in Tangmere, where Derek was stationed as an air despatcher with the Royal Corps of Transport.
Derek, who was born in Bradford, said they met at a dance and it went from there.
Anne said: “I wasn’t planning on going. My cousin, who had a young man at Tangmere, was going and she wanted me to go with her. It was a last-minute thing. I went along expecting to be a gooseberry.”
The couple were married at St Peter and St Paul Church in West Wittering on May 25, 1968.
Derek explained: “We married early. I had been posted to Singapore for three years, which was a long time to be apart.
“We were engaged, so we married just before I went. I had six months in Malaysia, then Anne joined me in Singapore. From then on, Anne was an Army wife.”
Anne came from West Wittering and worked in Chichester, making stencils for mimeograph machines, until the move to Singapore. While they where in the Far East, their daughter Suzanne was born.
Their second child, Bryan, was born in May 1973 with severe learning disabilities, so the couple decided to set up a permanent home for the family.
Derek explained: “When Bryan was born, we decided he couldn’t manage living from place to place, so we bought a house in Swindon and it was better then, he had a more stable upbringing.
“It was something we had to do. I decided not to take a commission at the end of my career in the Army because it meant going to Germany and it wasn’t worth putting them through that. I was quite happy, I had got as high as I could in the rank structure.”
Derek left the Army in 1992 as Warrant Officer Class One after 27 years’ service, all over the world.
He was detachment commander with 47 Air Despatch Squadron during the Falklands War, based on Ascension Island, and was made an MBE for his leadership, organising airdrops to the task force.
The citation read: “Many of these loads, because of their fragile nature, presented the very small air despatch team with previously unaccounted technical problems.
“The calm and confident manner in which Warrant Officer Moore surmounted these, often under conditions of extreme pressure, demonstrated his unparalleled knowledge of the intricacies of his profession.
“Without him, the spectacular achievements of the flying element of the Hercules detachment would have been to no avail.”
After leaving the Army, Derek ran a driving school for five years.
They then moved to the south coast in 1998 to be near Anne’s family and chose Littlehampton because Abbotswood in Rustington could take Bryan straightaway.
Derek started working for Arun Volunteer Centre and became the co-ordinator for both Littlehampton and Bognor, until he left in 2014.
He has been a volunteer with Arun Community Transport for 19 years, project leader for Arun Sunshine Group for 18 years, a case worker for SSAFA for ten to 15 years and Poppy Appeal organiser for Littlehampton for four years. He is also a volunteer at the Look & Sea Centre and secretary for their short mat bowls club.
Anne is on the committee for Arun Sunshine Group, does flower arranging and plays short mat bowls.
She is currently knitting poppies for a display at St Mary’s Church in Littlehampton later this year, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The couple will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday with a gathering for family and friends.