Meeting at club led to 60 years of marriage

Norman and Kathleen Hazell.
Norman and Kathleen Hazell.

A former mayor of Wakefield and his wife of 60 years have celebrated their Diamond Wedding.

Norman and Kathleen Hazell met as teenagers more than six decades ago at St Austin’s Youth Club.

The great grandparents, of Woolgreaves Avenue, Sandal, passed their 60-year milestone on February 16.

Mr Hazell, 84, described meeting his future wife Kathleen for the first time at the youth club.

He said: “I first saw Kathleen in 1949. She was such a good dancer and taught me how to play tennis.

“Quite a few boys were chasing her and I had a job making sure I kept her.”

After Mr Hazell went on National Service, he narrowly avoided being posted to Germany so he could continue to see his future wife.

Stationed in Huntingon in Cambridgeshire, he would thumb lifts back to his home city every weekend during their courtship. Mr Hazell said: “I would get away every weekend and walk across the fields, unofficially, and hitch hike up the great north road, always in uniform.

“People would always stop and pick up a man in uniform.

“On the way back I’d sleep in the station at Peterborough and catch the very early morning train back.”

At their wedding on February 16, 1957, Mr and Mrs Hazell were the last couple to be married at the old English Martyrs Church after a new church was built that year.

Mr Hazell said: “They said they would like us to be the first couple to be married at the new church.

“But Kathleen said she would sooner we were the last couple married at the old church.”

The couple enjoyed a honeymoon in London and southern Ireland before moving into a cottage in Eastmoor.

They stayed there for two years, then moved to their Sandal home, where they still live.

Mr Hazell was employed at Yorkshire Copperworks.

Mrs Hazell worked at the Double Two Shirt Company before becoming a dressmaker.

The couple had five children, Christopher, 59, Catherine, 57 Joanne, 55, Sarah, 53 and Maria, 51, and now have 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Mr and Mrs Hazell celebrated last Friday with a party at Sandal Rugby Club with guests who were at their wedding 60 years ago. Around 80 people were there from as far afield as Australia, Canada, Dubai and London.

Mr Hazell said before the event: “It is wonderful that we have all survived and we will all be there.”