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Diamond anniversary for Joyce and Graeme Moffatt

By Ari Balle-Bowness

IN THE 1950s if you wanted to go to the UK you went by ship.

Only royalty and captains of industry could afford to fly.

A plane to the mother country might take two or three days, depending on weather and load, making as many as five stops along the way.

A cruise liner got you there in weeks, not days. But despite the cost, when Joyce Berryman walked down the aisle in 1959 to marry Graeme Moffatt, the flowers she carried included white heather, flown in from Scotland by the Moffatt family.

The date was October 10, and the couple were being wed in Mathoura’s Holy Cross Anglican church.

To complete the family connections, pinned to Joyce’s gown was an 85-year-old locket, worn by her great grandmother Joyce, grandmother Georgiana and mother Doss on their wedding days.

Then, with her flowers in one hand and her father in the other, Joyce took her final steps as Miss Berryman.

That was 60 years ago yesterday and the couple are still just as much in love.

“Graeme always says it was a lovely sight when he turned to watch me walk up the aisle,” Joyce added with a smile.

That the couple ever met, let alone married, is a story as remarkable as them flying in flowers for the big day.

In those days a lot of love stories began with meetings at school or in the same neighbourhood. And while Joyce and Graeme did live within a short walk of each other they never met.

That memorable occasion would take place on holiday in Surfer’s Paradise Graeme said.

“I went up there with a group of friends from the air force, and Joyce went up with a friend from Mathoura,” he recalled.

“When we arrived at Coolangatta, my mum was staying up on the Gold Coast for the last night of her own holiday.”

The boys decided to visit her and “when we got there, we saw two young girls sitting perched on their suitcases outside mum’s unit”.

They soon found out the girls had arrived a day early to their holiday and were waiting for Graeme’s mum to check out.

“Mum offered to let them stay the night, so I rushed over to carry their cases up,” Graeme said.

“It was like the old saying, I was struck by a thunderbolt.”

They spent the next two weeks together and arranged to find one another back in Echuca.

“All my life I had a mother-inlaw who couldn’t complain about me because she introduced me to her son,” Joyce said.

After their wedding, followed by a Tasmanian honeymoon, the newlyweds soon found themselves on the land as farmers, running properties in Cohuna, Mathoura and Deniliquin for 50 years as livestock producers and croppers.

“It wasn’t all beer and skittles but there was a lot of satisfaction in farming,” Graeme said.

“We had some hard times and late nights, but we were fortunate.”

Now retired to their Cohuna home, Graeme and Joyce still start every day the same way they have for years.

“Every morning we have a cup of tea in bed,” Graeme said.

“It all started when Joyce first fell pregnant and the doctor told her to have a cuppa in the morning, it’s a lovely way to plan the day and it makes life a lot easier.”

And the babies keep coming; the extended family over which the octogenarians preside has extended further than their three children to include eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

With one more still on the way.

“Family was the most important thing for Joyce and me when we got married, they are our main enjoyment,” Graeme said.

“I think the 60-year secret is family, working, and doing everything together,” Joyce said.

“And when the tough times come you just need to remember the good ones.”