Pete's Speech

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Ladies Gentlemen /boys and girls/ distinguished guests /golden oldies (and I know some of you will fall into all those categories)  

A warm welcome to such a special occasion – the Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations of Peter and Joanne. 


bulletLet me take you back to August 1952.
bulletDad was a Captain with 32 Assault Eng regt- Royal Engineers having seen active service in Burma.
bulletMum was teaching in the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota – worlds apart! Mum was fortunate enough to win a Fulbright scholarship to study in England (Slough) and somehow life was not quite going to be the same!
bulletSeven months later after a whirlwind romance Capt Smith stopped his battered Standard 12 on the banks of the river Thames at Runneymede on the way home after an Army rugby match. He felt quite at home in this area, as he went to Beaumont College just around the corner.
bulletHis proposal went something like this “If I was to marry, my God would come first, my queen second and my wife third – will you marry me?

     - Mum pondered a moment and in true teacher style marked the question

10 for originality,

10 for honesty,

 9 for use of English, (well she was American)

 8 for atmosphere,

 1 for content.

 Average  7.6 ------ pass mark 7.5.----- OK– she accepted the proposal.

bulletAs a surprise for Mum and Dad to celebrate this happy event, the family are sending them on a weekend break back to Runnymede and they will be staying at a hotel and Conference centre now called Beaumont House, formerly Beaumont College. So a nostalgic trip for them both.

August 1954

bulletJust to give you some idea of world affairs in 1954
bulletThe BBC started its first daily news service
bulletRationing came to an end
bulletBannister ran the 4 minute mile
bulletThere was an eclipse of the sun
bulletThere was a peace deal in the Indo China war
bulletFangio won Formula 1
bulletWinston Churchill was 80
bulletAnd I had just turned 1…. Well    No… Actually I was still a twinkle in their eyes.
bulletDad duly arrived in the states in a style befitting his rank– with the baggage in a military transport plane.
bulletAfter passing immigration he had to pass Uncle Bob. Unbeknownst to him Uncle Bob was to meet him and was under instruction to vet the army officer and assess his suitability for marrying into the Hart family – Dad managed to avoid the return flight home as he passed the test. (And to this day mum, is still wondering how?)
bulletThe ceremony was performed at St Paul’s, Minnesota and I believe we have some of the original guests are with us this evening. This was followed by a whirlwind tour of N America - Chicago, Washington and N York, and the honeymoon on RMS Queen Mary – apparently dad had to sell the car to pay for it!
bulletWith true military precision they decided on a master plan and their objectives were
bulletTo see the world,
bulletHave handful of children
bulletBe happily married for 50 yrs.

Well 2 out of three is not bad is it!

bulletOne of their concerns was they also had no house- the potential married army quarter was already allocated and being out of the country they had no idea of any arrangements. However, a telegram winged its way to the states from his Commanding Officer. It simply said “Wigwam ready for new squaw” and was signed Big Chief Royal Engineers Tribe.
bulletAnd so married life started   …… posted to Tidworth and thereafter to shuttling back and forward across the sea for the next 20 years. Either the Army couldn’t make their mind what to do with them or Dad having trouble holding down any job for longer than 3 years. You can decide which.


bulletAs befits this special occasion, a poem has been specially commissioned. The poet laureate was unavailable so I turned to a seasoned campaigner, a veteran of the Smith family pantomimes! Every year the Smiths get together to celebrate the festive season, New Year and dad’s birthday - we go to the pantomime (chorus). Dad has his name mentioned in a poem, and to redress that balance the same author, our very own Milly Molly Mandy has written a poem for this occasion about Smith family life and this is entitled -The limey and the Yank

 More Recently

bulletIn 1972 the Smith family were posted to York – all the children safely caged in boarding schools.
bulletThere was one final twist as Dad was to retire, the Army hatched a heinous plot by first sending him to Brighton and then to Edinburgh. He became a weekly commuter for the next 3 years. Thereafter he settled back in to a retired Officers Job in York.
bullet Mum was teaching at Burnholme School situated on the rather aptly named Bad Bargain Lane rising to the position of Deputy Head.
bulletThey moved out of the Army quarter into their present residence in Strensall village and the globetrotting days were finally over (except for holidays). I should add, that I noticed the For Sale sign first when I was emptying the dustbins while working during my summer holiday!


bulletAs most of you know Dad belongs to Rotary International, and Mum the Inner Wheel.  Both are past presidents.
bulletDad is proud of his 100% attendance for nearly 40 yrs (this anniversary comes later this year). Jane, Jamie and I were fortunate (or not) to tour across the states on several occasions with mum and dad. Every time we arrived at a new destination – Dad had to find where rotary were meeting! We then had to amend all our plans and drive him to the meetings.
bulletMum and Dad both enjoy the fellowship, social and fund raising sides of Rotary.
bulletIndeed Dad is so caught up in Rotary, that he recently thought the film ‘Fellowship of the Rings’ was ….a new Rotary secret ceremony.
bulletSo why does Dad have his 100% record?– I know the secret, and can confirm that Rotary really is …. A marriage guidance club. Each week, Rotary gives time out to marriages…. the boys leave for lunch and talk…. And the wives relax at home
bulletIn our house mum pulls up a chair, puts her feet up and pours a bottle of Theakstons Old Peculiar, well… She just got rid of one why shouldn’t she enjoy another one.


bulletDad describes himself as a GI bride in reverse, and if you haven’t heard that story or the joke about the Irishman whose wife had twins, then you are in a minority.
bulletHe is a man for all seasons – an army man through and through with 47yrs service.
bulletHe played rugby for the Army and the London district.
bulletHe is keen on DIY, wood working, printing and computing
bulletHe has taken evening classes, which include making leather clothes, silver smithing, pottery, Chinese cookery and his latest love painting.
bulletHe has his own street in York named after him.
bulletIn his time (as the photos will testify) he has been a clown, monkey, bearded belly dancer, and a harpic bog brush). – Which is he tonight?
bulletHe always has a good word to say to people even if he has only just met them. (especially if they are young and female)


bulletMum describes herself as a Camp follower and ended up in the danger zones on a few occasions. She had to carry a revolver in her handbag and a sten gun in the car in the early years in Singapore. I would like to add the danger was not from her husband but communist terrorists.
bulletShe was a devoted schoolteacher for 43 years. She taught in 12 schools and is still a school Governor and volunteering to teach special needs (having developed her skills at home with dad!)                             
bulletShe has taught everything form woodwork to current affairs but specialised in Drama and English.
bulletShe has taught political leaders notably Singapore Prime Minister – Lee Quan Yew and the current senator from Minnesota. And therefore could have had an Influence on world politics!
bulletMum currently organizes and participates in a badminton club and apparently just missed Olympic selection (by a couple of light years).
bulletMums loves poetry and her favourite poet Ogden Nash said ‘All husbands are alike, but they have different faces, so you can tell them apart.’


Through thick and thin this marriage has survived due Mum’s tolerance, Dad’s enthusiasm and their ability to still complement, appreciate, and love each other. Fifty years is a long time to be together and we should not underestimate this achievement. We look forward to their diamond anniversary in 10 years time.


Lets us raise our glasses

And then imbibe

To the Splendid Couple

Who founded this tribe


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