A Mildenhall couple who made the papers 50 years ago for being the youngest newlyweds in the UK are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary today.
John and Jenny Cotton, both 66, went on their first date at the Mildenhall Picture House in March 1963 and were married three years later, after Jenny fell pregnant.
They were hailed as the country’s youngest married couple at the time and appeared in newspapers including the Daily Mirror and the Bury Free Press.
“We had no idea at the time,” said Jenny. “We got married on the Saturday, and by the Monday we had all the newspapers come around. I’ve still got all the article cuttings in a book.
“After we’d been married 25 years we ended up in a newspaper in Holland, because I had a pen friend there.
“So many people said that it wouldn’t last. I said if we made it to 50 years I would call up the Bury Free Press - I just wanted everyone to know we had been married that long.
“You hear of so many marriages breaking up nowadays, and we didn’t think we would get here. I’m amazed 50 years has gone by.”
Despite being supported by her parents in their first years together in Mildenhall, Jenny said she and John ‘really struggled’.
“For the first few years we had no money, we couldn’t drive and we couldn’t rent anywhere because we were too young,” she said.
“We never borrowed money from anyone. I really don’t know how we did it. But we have always been happy - we had no money but it didn’t matter.”
The couple took early money troubles in their stride and went on to have three children, two of whom now live in America, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Jenny, a tailor by trade for 20 years, also worked as a child-minder and in Lloyd’s Pharmacy in Mildenhall, while John worked as a loads planner with the Ministry of Defence at RAF Mildenhall.
“We’re both ‘keep fit’ fanatics as well,” said Jenny. “John ran several London Marathons, and when we were 60 we did the Great North Run for Kidney Research, for our granddaughter.”
Despite being born and bred in Mildenhall, John and Jenny moved to Kentucky four years ago to be closer to their daughter Penny, 43, who trained as a hairdresser at West Suffolk College, and her husband Michael.
Jenny said: “It is nice to be near my daughter and to be able to see her and her family every day, and it’s lovely seeing our grandchildren grow up here. Our eldest son Douglas now lives in Florida, and our middle boy, Eric, still lives in Mildenhall.”