Royal Observer Corps couple from Whalley celebrate 50-year marriage

GOLDEN WEDDING: Mr and Mrs Kenneth and Norma Collins. (s)
GOLDEN WEDDING: Mr and Mrs Kenneth and Norma Collins. (s)

A WHALLEY couple who served alongside each other in the Royal Observer Corps for 40 years have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Kenneth George Collins and his wife Norma met in the R.O.C. which they both joined in their late teens and in which they served until it was stood down in 1992.

Becoming volunteers in 1952, their duties included tracking and reporting aircraft flying over Great Britain and, during the Cold War, the additional task of training for the detection and reporting of nuclear explosions and associated fallout.

This meant working firstly from a monitoring post in Manchester, then a three-storey underground centre in Preston. In the early 1980s they conducted training exercises from a small monitoring post 18 feet underground at Bolton-by-Bowland! Norma later received a commendation for meritorious service to the Royal Air Force in Strike Command.

The couple married on June 23rd, 1962, at St Mary’s RC Church, Stockport, and Norma worked at The Stockport Advertiser. They then moved to Bury, which was half-way between the Burnley company that Ken worked for as an insurance and surety broker in Eccles and Norma’s job in Stockport.

While living in Bury, the couple were very involved with life in the Guardian Angels Parish where they established and ran a youth club. They also raised money for charities and the elderly of the parish. After 12 years the couple moved with their two sons, two daughters, one cat and a Great Dane, to Colne.

They went on to join the Sacred Heart Parish and were part of the volunteer group who operated the community bus that took the elderly to Sunday Mass.

During that time Ken became a member of the Catenian Association and they fostered twin boys until they were 18 years old.

After 28 years in Colne and following Ken’s retirement they moved to Whalley in 2002. They had been associated with Whalley through Oakhill College since its inception in 1981 and it was there that their children were educated. In Whalley, the couple became members of the English Martyrs Church, which they are still very much involved with.

A highlight for the couple this year was when Ken, who has been a governor at Burnley College for nearly 20 years, met HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip on their visit to the college in May.

The couple, who have 12 grandchildren, marked their anniversary by renewing their vows at their church and then enjoyed a family lunch at Mytton Fold, Langho. A Mediterranean cruise has also been booked with family for later this year.