Happy Couple Celebrate St. Valentine’s Day at Bernard Sunley Care Home And Reminisce About Their 51 Years of Marriage

At Bernard Sunley, the Woking-based residential, nursing and dementia care home run by charity Friends of the Elderly, the care team has shot arrows of love and played Cupid for this year’s Valentine’s Day. They turned the care home’s beautiful Conservatory into a romantic bistro setting and hosted a delicious Valentine’s Day lunch for its residents.

One happy couple who celebrated the loving day, were Jennifer and Mike Lattimer. Jennifer has been a resident at Bernard Sunley since 9th February and Mike visits each day to ensure they spend quality time together. Married for over 50 years, Jennifer and Mike met through mutual friends at a party in London. “The party was in a flat in Trafalgar Square,” said Mike. “I met Jennifer in the kitchen and we instantly got on so well, we didn’t leave – we spent the whole party, in the kitchen, talking to each other.” Jennifer added: “I knew Mike would be a ‘Keeper’, as he helped with the washing up after the party and, yes, we were still in the kitchen.”

For their first date, they went to the cinema in the West End of London. “I’d invited Jennifer to come and see ‘Death in Venice’, the 1971 film starring the late Dirk Bogarde. We were looking forward to seeing the film as it had great reviews,” continued Mike. “Our evening didn’t to go plan, as when we got to the cinema, all the tickets were gone. So, we saw another film, a thriller called ‘Puppet On a Chain’. To be honest, it was a terrible film, but we still had a lovely time as we were together.” However, the couple didn’t miss out, they returned to see ‘Death in Venice’ the following week on another date night. “It was a great film,” added Jennifer. “I’m so glad we finally got to see it; we both thoroughly loved it.”

The happy couple tied the knot at Eltham Methodist Church on 14th July 1973. “I can’t believe it’s been 51 years this year,” said Jennifer. For their honeymoon, Mike and Jennifer went to Bamburgh in Northumberland. “We stayed in a wonderful, small hotel very near to the vast Bamburgh Beach,” continued Mike. “We enjoyed it so much; we’ve been back to the area many times over the years.”

Bamburgh Beach is backed by fabulous sand dunes and the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, with sea views across to Lindisfarne, Holy Island and Farne Islands. “Bamburgh Castle is a Grade I Listed building and known as one of the finest in the country,” continued Mike. 

“It is steeped in history. It’s the first castle in England to fall to canon fire as the Wars of Roses came to an end and was also one of the world’s first ‘coastguard’ stations.”

One of the reason Jennifer and Mike decided on Bamburgh for their honeymoon was their joint love of walking. “We’ve shared, and still do share, a few joint hobbies,” said Jennifer. “We thoroughly enjoyed walking and hiking – and going to classical concerts. We both still enjoy classical music. We had memberships of Yehudi Menuhin School, which allowed us to get cheaper tickets to all the students’ concerts. The renowned violinist founded the school back in 1963 for musically gifted children from around the world. The concerts were superb.”

Jennifer and Mike had a son, James, and both agree that having James was the best part of their long and happy marriage. “Watching our son growing up was a wonderful thing,” said Mike. He was very energetic, a little bit naughty, but mostly a good child. There was nothing better than the three of us, taking long family walks.”

Both Jennifer and Mike had busy careers. Jennifer was a Social Worker and Mike worked for The Heinz Company in the Export Department. Mike then moved on and worked for various food import – export companies, finally working for family office furniture business; but they always made sure to make time for each other. “Once I was sent to Malta on a work trip,” continued Mike. “Whilst I was away, all I thought about was Jennifer and how much she’d love the island.”

Both agree that their key to a long and happy marriage is supporting each other’s interests, looking after each other in sickness and in health and having a good sense of humour. “We laugh a lot,” said Jennifer. “We both have a sense of humour and love telling each other jokes. I also love that Mike is so good at history – he teaches me new facts all the time.”

“We’ve been asked a few times what the secret to our long, happy and joyful marriage is,” added Mike. “We believe it’s never to go to sleep unhappy with each other. We heard that on a Wilfred Pickles radio programme over 60 years ago, and it’s worked for us.”

“I agree,” added Jennifer. “Life is too short to be upset with each other, you have to forgive and forget.”  

“Jennifer and Mike are a wonderful couple, always smiling, chatting and joking together. On Valentine’s Day we wanted to celebrate with them to let them know just how special they are and how special they are to all of us at Bernard Sunley,” concluded Andy Cumper, the Registered Manager at Bernard Sunley.