A ruby wedding

Nana & Grandpy’s ruby wedding. From left to right, back row – Nana, Helen, Grandpy, Mum, me – front row – Sharon, Anna, David. June 1988. In the garden of Upper West End Farm, Stainburn. Own collection.

We are simultaneously both a large family and a small one. With four siblings and five nieces and nephews, a family gathering is rarely smaller than fifteen and normally much larger. Yet we have but one cousin, who is more than a decade younger than I. For many years my siblings & I were the only grandchildren. My grandparents were grandparents, not quasi parents, but I think this goes a long way to explaining why we were close.

On my Mum’s side this was even more apparent. Mum had just one brother, Richard, and after he died in his early twenties, Mum became a de-facto only child.

Nana & Grandpy’s ruby wedding. From the left: Aunty Hilda, Grandpy, Nana, Anna, Hugh & Edna Ryder. Opposite Nana is Helen, to her right are Dennis & Dot Beecroft and to her left Uncle Henry & Aunty Marian. June 1988. At the Smiths Arms, Beckwithshaw. Own collection.

That’s why when Nana & Grandpy celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary we were centre of the action. Anna is sat next to Nana, Helen just opposite them both. Mum appears to be the youngest adult as we sit surrounded by Nana & Grandpy’s oldest friends. There’s Aunty Hilda (my Nana’s sister), Uncle Henry & Aunty Marian (my Grandpy’s brother & his wife), Dot & Dennis Beecroft (who hosted my Mum so she could get married at Leathley church), Edna & Hugh Ryder (grandparents of one of my oldest friends) and Rosemary Briggs (nee Booth) (Nana’s cousin and bridesmaid). Lunch was at the Smiths Arms in Beckwithshaw. Soup appears to have been on the menu & no doubt a roast. There was cake at home afterwards, not in the cold, rarely used, best room, but in the warm, homely, everyday room.

Nana & Grandpy’s ruby wedding. Cutting the cake back at home, Upper West End Farm, Stainburn. June 1988. Own collection.

In the end it is not Nana & Grandpy’s faces I see in these photos, but a forty year relationship, a close-knit group of friends and a deep and abiding love for my mother, my siblings & I. With gratitude to my Nana & Grandpy for being such wonderful grandparents and to Natalie Pithers for her mini-challenge “paper – ruby – wood” which prompted this blog.

Nana & Grandpy’s ruby wedding. With Rosemary Briggs (nee Booth), Nana’s bridesmaid & cousin. In the carpark of the Smiths Arms. June 1988. Own collection.

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