Teenage sweethearts finally marry 60 YEARS after disapproving parents forced them apart

'We have simply picked up where we left off!' Teenage sweethearts finally marry 60 YEARS after disapproving parents forced them apartEileen and Warner Billington met aged 16 and 17The pair wanted to marry in 1950 but her father refusedBoth married other people but were widowed at the same timeThey finally married aged 78 and 79 in Truro this year

PUBLISHED:

11:59 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 1 April 2013

In the sitting room of Eileen and Warner Billington’s home, the black and white photograph on the right takes pride of place.

It shows the couple as teenage sweethearts, cuddled up in a photobooth during a charabanc outing to the seaside at Rhyl, North Wales, in 1950.

You would naturally assume that Eileen, now 78, and Warner, 79, had been together ever since.

Devoted: Eileen and Warner first met as teenagers but her father refused to allow them to marry

Devoted: Eileen and Warner first met as teenagers but her father refused to allow them to marry

First love: Eileen and Warner Billington met aged 16 and 17 but finally married in their 70s

First love: Eileen and Warner Billington met aged 16 and 17 but weren't able to marry until their 70s

n fact, they married only two years ago – after spending six decades apart.

The first part of their love story
ended in heartbreak, after Eileen’s father ruled that, at 18 and 19,
they were too young to get married. Both went on to enjoy happy
marriages, have children, celebrate their golden weddings and become
grandparents.

But they never forgot each other –
and Eileen always treasured that photobooth snap, even asking her sister
to look after it in case her husband asked her to destroy it.

Six decades later, after both were widowed, Eileen and Warner met again through a mutual friend.

They realised they still wanted to be together and, with nothing now to stop them, finally got married.

Yesterday Eileen said: ‘It’s as
though we’ve never been apart. As well as loving each other, we are good
companions, just like when we first met. In fact, we are just like an
old married couple.’

The couple grew up in Smethwick, West
Midlands. They met in 1950 after Warner, 17, noticed Eileen Lockley,
then 16, walking down the street with her sister Margaret, whose
boyfriend was a friend of his.

‘I saw her and I was smitten,’ said
Warner. ‘I waited for them to come out of Margaret’s boyfriend’s house
and come back up the road.

‘I got a pair of garden shears and
pretended to cut the hedge outside my parents’ house. When they passed, I
said, “Hello Margs, who’s that with you” and we got talking.’ Shortly
afterwards, Warner enlisted in the RAF and was stationed at St Athan
in South Wales. Eileen, an aspiring tap dancer, worked for the gas
board and performed in pantomimes.

Eventually Warner wrote to Eileen and asked her out on their first date. After that they wrote to each other every day.

Happy: The couple are enjoying a contented retirement together in the Cornish town of Newquay

Happy: The couple are enjoying a contented retirement together in the Cornish town of Newquay

Long lasting love: According to Warner, anyone who says they've forgotten their first love is fibbing

Long lasting love: According to Warner, anyone who says they've forgotten their first love is fibbing

Two years later they decided to
become engaged, but Eileen’s widowed father said they were too young.
Warner said: ‘I thought Eileen’s father was wrong, but I didn’t propose.
Somehow, we just parted after that. It was my fault, I just went my own
way.’

In 1956, Eileen married Jack Lenton. They had a son and a daughter and ran a hotel in Newquay, Cornwall. Jack died in 2006.

Meanwhile Warner got married, to
Gillian, in 1957. The couple had three sons and were together for 53
years until Gillian died in 2010.

Eileen and Warner did not see or
speak to each other after they split, but a friend of Warner’s used to
stay at Eileen’s hotel and she would always ask how Warner was.

After the friend told Eileen about
Warner’s bereavement they picked up the phone and spoke again for the
first time in six decades.

A year later, Warner plucked up the courage to ask Eileen to visit him at his home in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Eventually, with the approval of both families, Warner moved in with Eileen in Newquay, and on December 6, 2011, they married.

Warner said: ‘We both often wondered
about what might have happened if things had worked out differently. But
we don’t dwell on it now. We are both reasonably fit and healthy for
our ages and are looking forward not backward.’

At last! After 60 years apart, the couple finally married in Truro this year with family and friends around them

At last! After 60 years apart, the couple finally married in Truro this year with family and friends around them

At last! After 60 years apart, the couple finally married in Truro this year with family and friends around them