By Mick Jensen
There were cards of congratulations from the Queen, Bill English and Jo Goodhew, but Doug and Rena Forsyth celebrated 60 years of marriage in typical low key fashion and with a cuddle in front of the fire.
The couple met at a dance at a Butlins holiday camp in Ayr, Scotland and were married in Perth on July 20, 1957. Rena was a month shy of her 20th birthday and Doug almost five years older.
The pair moved to New Zealand in 1962 to give their children more opportunities in life.
Doug, a skilled colour printer in Scotland, came out by ship on an assisted passage and landed an advertising sales job in Ashburton with the Ashburton Guardian, and Rena followed six months later with their three children.
The couple settled into a new life and four more children followed, including twins.
Today their seven children have delivered an extended flock of 15 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
“The whole reason for the move here all those years ago was because we couldn’t see a great future for our kids in Scotland.
“We made the decision to move and it was the right choice because all of the kids have done well for themselves in New Zealand,” Mr Forsyth said.
The couple had had their fair share of ups and downs over their married life, but had tolerated and supported each other through thick and thin.
“We don’t believe in hanging on to our grievances. We both wake up fresh every day and forget any previous disagreements,” said Rena.
The couple had only ever lived in two houses in New Zealand, a home on Cass Street and their current house on Cambridge Street, she said.
Doug was a pipe major and also the secretary of the Ashburton Scottish Society for a number of years and still actively bikes around Ashburton today as he approaches his 85 birthday.
Rena enjoyed social basketball and was involved with Scottish dancing in her younger days and both have fond memories of dances at Ashburton’s Radiant Hall.
“It’s been a good life and a good marriage,” they both agreed.
Doug and Rena have never forgotten their Scottish roots or lost their accents, but they are proud to call New Zealand home and are still happily together after 60 years of marriage.