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Couple who battled racial prejudice still going strong 65 years on

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A happy Wolverhampton couple who had to fight racial prejudice in the early days of their relationship have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

Lilian and George Peterkin celebrate their wedding anniversary

Lilian and George Peterkin met after a chance encounter on a night out – a rare night out for Lilian.

As they began their courtship at a time when mixed-race relationships were often frowned upon, they sometimes found themselves forced to take to the back streets when out and about to avoid verbal abuse.

The pair, who live in Bradmore, met in 1953, before tying the knot on May 14, 1954, at Wolverhampton register office – two years to the day after George arrived from Jamaica in 1952.

Lilian, originally from Wordsley, said: "My father was a very strict man – all I could do was study about nursing because I was going to take an exam.

"One night a woman was at the bus stop and said 'have you had a night out?' and she told me to ask my father if I could come out for one night only.

"That one night I met my husband at a dance at Brierley Hill town hall.

Lilian and George Peterkin on their wedding day

"He was a stranger across the hall. He took over from a dance partner I had and that's how it started. It's history from there – and we're still courting now."

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The 83-year-old added: "When we got together we used to walk around the back streets because there was a lot of colour prejudice around at that time.

"At that time we were in Broad Street walking with another couple and there was a man who said insults toward us.

"The man we were with punched the other man for the insults he gave us.

"It's all under the bridge now and we don't think about those things anymore.

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"We've still remained quite strong through it."

Idolised

Lilian said her father, however, was overjoyed by her choice of partner.

She added: "My father, when I told him, he was over the moon. My father idolised him."

The pair said the secret to their happy marriage was their religion.

She said: "The only thing I can say is that Jesus has kept us together. Our belief in God has kept us together because these days when ordinary people get married as soon as the reception is over they are phoning the solicitor for divorce.

"They don't last long now. Sixty-five years is a long time – it's a lifetime."

Both Lilian and George intend to celebrate their wedding anniversary by having their family over – which includes five children, 19 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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