By Bonny Burrows
John and Barbara Jarrott‘s love has withstood multiple countries, “a fizzer” of a first date and six decades.
The Pakenham couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on 14 September, marking the occasion with an evening function with 66 of their closest friends and family on 23 September.
The event couldn’t have gone more smoothly for the pair – unlike their love story.
John and Barbara met when John – a member of the air force – was posted to Williamtown, north of Newcastle.
Barbara was a nurse at the local psychiatric hospital who one day after work didn’t have time to rush to her own church, so she visited the Stockton Methodist Church and met John.
“This attractive blonde and I hit it off,” John laughed.
For their first date, John was supposed to take her home from church; however as he did each week, he first drove home a couple of older churchgoers.
“When I got back she had gone home with a friend,” John said.
“So the first Sunday night was a fizzer, but the next Sunday night I made sure it all went to plan.”
The couple married in September 1957 at the church, but their marriage came with one condition.
“Before we were going to get married, I told her that as a member of the air force I could go anywhere, so she had to agree to go anywhere I got sent,” John said.
“But I don’t think she ever thought we’d spend 17 years overseas.”
The couple and their two children, Peter and Allyson, “lived all over the place” but eventually retired in Canberra.
They were hoping to stay there, but moved to Ferntree Gully to babysit for their daughter-in-law.
“That house was supposed to be it, our forever,” Barbara said.
But her family had other plans.
After 17 years of living in the foothills suburb, the couple moved to Pakenham to be closer to their youngest granddaughter and her husband.
Today, the tight-knit Jarrott family all live within a one-kilometre radius of each other and take it in turns hosting Sunday roast.
The ups and downs, including the disastrous first date and international travel, have only made the pair stronger, the couple said.
“I’m sure it did. Moving location is never easy, but I think we’re all the better for it,” John said.
“We’ve led a very interesting life.”
When asked the key to a long-lasting marriage, the couple cited “praying hard, talking to one another and being tolerant”.
“Also, being part of the church family is very significant and important to us,” John said.