Marriage of ups, downs and an Iraqi revolution

Sixty years on Diamond Couple: David and Norah Halmshaw
Sixty years on Diamond Couple: David and Norah Halmshaw

MARRIED couples always have their ups and downs, but not many can say they have survived a revolution.

But that is one of the many experiences Middle Rasen couple David and Norah Halmshaw have endured during their 60 years of marriage.

The first photograph of David Halmshaw and Norah Smith together was taken on a station platform in West Yorkshire as pupils from Heckmondwike Grammar School were making their way to Glasgow for the 1938 Empire Exhibition.

Always part of a wider group of friends, the pair grew closer and, after completing university, they became engaged once they were out at work.

The date was fixed, but had to be changed the same day, when David, who worked for travel company Thomas Cook, was suddenly called to New York.

With a new date planned – May 24 1952 in Heckmondwike – Norah was left to arrange all the details as David returned from America just days before the wedding.

Married life was spent in various locations with David’s job and Norah taking short-term teaching jobs.

In 1956 David took charge of the Baghdad office and lived through the Iraq revolution, before taking on a new role in the safer climes of Scotland, where the couple’s children, Trish and Nigel, were born.

It wasn’t until 1968 that the family came to live back in England, and when David retired in 1986, as general manager of all Thomas Cook offices in the UK, the couple were living in Northamptonshire – and in 2005 they moved to Middle Rasen.

Over the years, Norah continued teaching and was also very active in guiding, rising to the rank of county commissioner for Rutland; she is still involved with the Trefoil Guild at Gainsborough.

“We have certainly experienced a lot of things and seen a lot of the world,” said David.

“Sometimes things have been tough, but we wouldn’t change a thing.”

And when asked the secret to staying together, Norah knows it is all about compromise.

“You have got to play your own part and see the other person’s view too,” she said.

“We have arguments and then come to a mutual decision – it is important to meet each other half-way.”