A Coventry couple who came to Coventry as part of the Windrush generation have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.
Childhood sweethearts Rupert and Carmel Anderson grew up together in Clarendon in Jamaica.
But after getting engaged, they spent two years apart while Rupert came to Coventry to set up a life for them.
Speaking to CoventryLive, Rupert and Carmel’s daughter Angela Breen described her parents as “warm genuine people and very giving”, and filled us in on their eventful life.
“My dad came to the UK in 1959 and rented a room in Leamington, he came over on a boat called Begona. Carmel followed in 1961.
“Rupert worked and saved his money so Carmel could come by plane, and they got married at Warwick registry office in 1961 and moved to Coventry in 1964, and purchased their first home in Kirkdale Avenue,” she said.
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Rupert did a number of jobs – first working on the railways, then as a porter, then a boiler man at Dunlop.
He then spent his longest stint at the Peugeot factory as a forklift driver, and latterly as a security guard.
The couple have six children: Iona, Elaine, Mark, Angela, Edwin and Jeffrey. They also have nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Surely that must mean a very busy family life? Angela, who now lives in London, said: “I say my parents should put in a revolving door in their house in Binley which they’ve lived at for 35 years, my siblings are always visiting, and if it’s not them it’s the grandkids.
“They always have visitors from within and outside the family ( before coronavirus). People don’t want to leave when they visit there because my mum’s a feeder!”
Asked how the couple managed while being apart for two years, Angela replied: “It must have been tough but my dad was just focused and he’s a great saver. He just had the eyes on the prize and it was always going to be my mum, so that’s what she focused on.”
Describing her parents as devout Christians, Angela added: “Black people were not really accepted into white churches and that’s how black churches were formed.
“It was a place where they could meet and feel accepted, so the New Testament Church of God in Bell Green is one they have always attended.”
Their life may have slowed down a little, but what was life like growing up? Angela said: “My mum, I call her mother Earth, she’s a great mother.
“She’s always been there for us. She didn’t start working until my youngest brother started school so we always came home to cooked meals and so on, and she was always there.”
The children attended President Kennedy School and Carmel worked as a nursing assistant at Walsgrave Hospital for 38 years.
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“She’s a quiet lady, or she appears quiet to others, on the shy side, just a humble person and always giving,” she said. “She loves baking, cooking and makes the best cakes, and people request her cakes every Christmas.”
And Rupert isn’t a stranger to the pages of the Coventry Telegraph either. In 2016 he had a heart attack in the city centre and was saved by couple Stephen and Christine Little, who happened to be walking by.
They reunited after the Littles saw Rupert’s plea for them to come forward in the Coventry Telegraph, and Angela said they still call each other every single year to catch up.
Watch the amazing moment they reunited below:
Angela explained that the family truly value time together, which meant they had a double celebration on Zoom for Rupert and Carmel’s diamond anniversary, and Carmel’s 80th birthday.
And Rupert had a special surprise in store for Carmel, as Angela explained: “At the Zoom party my dad got down on one knee again and presented her with a diamond ring – she didn’t know about it!”
Angela said: “It was lovely because so many people were saying so many lovely things about them. People attended the party who we hadn’t even invited, but because they attended the church for so many years, people who used to live in Coventry but who have moved to various parts of the UK heard about it [and] joined the party!”
She said it was great to hear people share stories about her parents, and for them to be able to hear those things now.
Life certainly hasn’t been easy, so what would Angela say her parents’ secret to 60 years of marriage is? “They just take care of each other and love and laughter keeps them together.”
Rupert and Carmel celebrated 60 years of marriage on February 25 and Carmel’s 80th birthday was on March 7.
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