KEEPING the peace, having a focus outside the home and a simple lifestyle are the keys to one long-lasting marriage celebrated this week.
Bladen and Del Brooke, who until recently were lifelong Tamworth residents, marked their 60th anniversary with a couple of family members, a glass of champagne and an ocean view.
Now living in Coffs Harbour, they had a big celebration for their 50th anniversary and “decided to just be quiet this year”.
“We’ll probably go to the lookout and have champagne overlooking the sea,” Mrs Brooke said that morning.
“Coffs Harbour is beautiful – but we miss Tamworth … we have wonderful friends in Tamworth and wonderful memories there.”
The Brookes are probably best known in Tamworth for their community work: Mr Brooke is a life member of the Lions Club of Tamworth and the historical society, is a former city councillor and helped to found the regional film and sound archive.
He worked in and owned many electronics-related businesses over the years.
Mrs Brooke was a long-running member of Tamworth Day VIEW Club, is also a life member of Tamworth Historical Society, and was a committed information centre volunteer.
They both received Medals of the Order of Australia in 2010, which is believed to have been a first for a couple.
She said keeping busy was “half the secret” to a long and harmonious marriage.
“We’ve always been involved in public affairs; we loved our community and loved our family, and we seem to have been able to manage both,” she said.
“We’ve travelled a lot, too.
“We’ve had a very fortunate life; we’ve got three fantastic children and they have fantastic children.”
Another key was give-and-take, she said.
“Sometimes I think I’m right, but it’s easier to say, ‘Well you could be right, too’.
“Rather than having an argument, I keep my peace – and Bladen does the same.”
However, Mrs Brooke said she felt there were more pressures on young families these days.
“When we first got married, we had hardly any money; we didn’t expect much because we were happy with what we had; if we didn’t have it, we worked for it and got it when we could afford it.
“To pay a house off now, you have to have two people working – they get tired, the children get tired and still have to be looked after.
“They have so many commitments with the children, too. I think they try to do too much … I don’t know what the answer is, but I think the pace of life is so fast now that everything happens too quickly.”
The diamond couple still have active lives, which Mrs Brooke said was “surprising: we thought we were coming over here for a rest”.
“It’s like a train ride: people get on, people get off – but we’ve still got a lot of stops to go yet.”