Love is in the pair: couples or just friends, we look into love ahead of Valentine's Day | FEATURE

DIAMOND DAYS: Olga and Ted Hombsch still love each other's company and say they've never had a serious argument. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090217GGA05
DIAMOND DAYS: Olga and Ted Hombsch still love each other's company and say they've never had a serious argument. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090217GGA05

From one couple marking their 60th wedding anniversary, to a couple about to be married, to couples celebrating milestones in between and even platonic relationships – there’s a lot of love in the New England region this month.

Married for 60 years

Ted and Olga Hombsch will mark their 60th wedding anniversary on February 16, celebrating their diamond day with about 70 family members and friends at the community centre of Tamworth Gardens Retirement Estate on Saturday of next week.

The two met at Duri Hall at a gift evening for mutual friends who were to be married the next week, in 1955. 

Ted and Olga Hombsch on their wedding day in 1957.

Ted and Olga Hombsch on their wedding day in 1957.

“Country gift evenings were held one week prior to a wedding, when all your country friends gave this amazing dance evening in your honour, with lots of gifts and a great supper,” Olga says.

“Sixty years of happy marriage started two years later at St John’s Anglican Church – St Paul’s was only being built then – on the 16th of February, 1957.”

Three children, seven grandchildren, six great-great grandchildren and six decades later, their advice is simple: “Talk to one another, discuss what they’re going to do and agree on what they’re going to do,” Ted says. 

Ted and Olga say another key to a long, happy partnership is to keep matters in perspective. Like most Australian couples of their generation, they didn’t have a lot when they started out as newlyweds. They were also both from farming families and continued that lifestyle for several years. This meant they were kept busy making a living and looking after their three children, and didn’t have time for petty distractions.

Ted then had a number of jobs, from real estate agent to bus driver to driving B-double fuel trucks; while Olga’s enduring occupations were  being a stay-at-home mother and cake decorating – she has prepared special cakes for their anniversaries every decade.

About to be wed

John Mudford and Lauren Smith will be married in Tamworth on February 18 with dozens of family and friends there to celebrate with them.

The funny thing is, they’re not from the city and don’t really have any connections there – it’s just somewhere they like and a good neutral spot for their far-flung guests.

John’s from Gilgandra and Lauren’s from Gloucester, but they met working on a property in WA and now manage a cattle station of almost half a million acres at Katherine.

A happy snap of Lauren Smith and John Mudford.

A happy snap of Lauren Smith and John Mudford.

“We worked for the same contractor but in different camps in different places, then they merged the camps together and that's how we met. So we lived together, worked together then eventually got together,” John says.

Lauren Smith and John Mudford on holiday in Port Macquarie, where John proposed.

Lauren Smith and John Mudford on holiday in Port Macquarie, where John proposed.

They laugh when they describe their first date in 2011, which was certainly one-of-a-kind. Living on an isolated property, the traditional options of dinner and a movie were hardly available, so John got inventive.

“We knocked off early and went for a drive to the tip, really – just us and a couple of stubbies,” John says.

Lauren explains that it was a typical dumping spot found on big properties.

“It was one of those really old stations, so there was lots of cool old stuff. He was like, ‘You’ll be surprised when we get there’. When we arrived, he said, ‘I found all this old horse gear, wanna have a look?’ I thought it was pretty cute.”

What attracted them to each other in the first place? “I suppose because Lauren’s pretty good-looking,” John says. Even when she’s all dusty in her work gear all day? “Even better.” Lauren says John is a “pretty hard worker, easy to get on with”.

They have worked and lived together every day since, and Lauren says the key is “a lot of compromise”.

They’ll seal their futures together at the Pavillion Function Centre with Tamworth celebrant Vanessa Dobson officiating, have a three-day honeymoon in a cottage in Bellingen, then it’s straight back to work.

Somewhere in between

Guyra residents Roy and Janet Edmonds are celebrating 32 years together. They met in a missionary campground in Virginia in the USA.

“We met under wonderful pastors that invited Australians over to work in Virginia,” Janet says.

Janet and Roy Edmonds have been married for 32 years after meeting in America.

Janet and Roy Edmonds have been married for 32 years after meeting in America.

“He came one time and then the second time he visited, we got together. We’re very much in love, like we were.”

Campbell and Yvonne Schubert are about to celebrate their 50-year anniversary in April after meeting at a dance many years ago.

Angela and Barry Nolan have been together 26 years and attribute their relationship success to being able to “laugh at everything”.

Campbell and Yvonne Schubert.

Campbell and Yvonne Schubert.

Love for friends and self

Azalea Florist owners Mike and Melinda Heckrotte say that occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are very busy times, but apart from those Hallmark occasions, Melinda says other popular times for flowers are “anniversaries and ‘oops, I messed up’.”

She says there are some romantics out there, but is careful to maintain their privacy, saying only that “one person does quite regularly get a posy for his partner – that relationship is only a few years old” and there is a retired man who does the same.

Interestingly, the Heckrottes say some of their most regular clients are women buying for women – either for their friends, or for themselves.

Azalea Florist owners Mike and Melinda Heckrotte, with staff member Pauline Gale. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Azalea Florist owners Mike and Melinda Heckrotte, with staff member Pauline Gale. Photo: Gareth Gardner

One Azalea customer yesterday afternoon was there to buy a posy for a friend who was going through some family issues and “feeling down”.

She said she wanted her gift to communicate “just that you’re being thought of”. 

“I know she likes flowers and I want her to know someone’s thinking of her.”

Melinda says a bunch of blooms can express not only love but congratulations and sympathies, to name just two.

“The thing about flowers is, if you don’t know what to say, flowers say it all.”