Shepparton couple celebrates 60 years of marriage

By Liz Mellino

After 60 years of marriage it is evident the Hudsons know the secret to a long relationship.

Tony, 80, and Shirley, 79, are celebrating the occasion this weekend alongside their three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Living in Greater Shepparton for most of their lives after moving from England in their late 20s, Mr Hudson said the secret to a healthy marriage was to maintain open communication and respect for one another.

‘‘Work together and have a lot of respect for each other, I think that’s the main thing. Once you start losing respect for someone, then that’s it, you might as well end it,’’ he said.

‘‘Talk to each other, sit down and plan what you’re going to do and plan what you can’t do ... it’s the old saying about the grass being greener — it’s not, what is on one side of the fence is exactly the same as the other side, so why worry?’’

Growing up in the English countryside and meeting in high school, the pair’s love quickly blossomed.

After dating for a few years the couple tied the knot in January, 1959, on a cold and snowy winter day.

‘‘I lost my mum when I was 11 and my dad the year after, I’ve been alone my whole life ... Tony got in touch with me and I was on my own, struggling, so we thought we’d get together and get married,’’ Mrs Hudson said.

‘‘I was 19 and Tony was 20. I was very excited to get married ... we were never unhappy, we just made the best of everything we had.’’

The young couple quickly produced a family, having three children in the first couple of years following their marriage.

In 1968, they made the decision to relocate, spending four weeks travelling to Australia by boat with three young children in tow.

‘‘We had three children under five years of age when we came to Australia on the boat for a month ... it was a big change, an enormous change for us,’’ Mr Hudson said.

‘‘There was over 1000 immigrants on the boat and it wasn’t a big ship.’’

Arriving in Australia, the Hudsons moved into a 9square home in Winston St, Shepparton, which they later purchased for $14000.

The pair vividly remembers how small the home was, with just two bedrooms and a small living and dining room for the young family to share.

While it was compact, they said they were grateful, acknowledging the struggles that come with moving from another country with nothing but a handful of belongings in a small suitcase.

‘‘You have to remember you have no furniture or beds or anything when you come here; we all slept on the floor for a while. People don’t realise when you get here you start with nothing,’’ Mrs Hudson said.

Working as a builder in England, Mr Hudson was lucky to land a job in Shepparton not long after arriving.

Earning $50 a week for six days’ work, he said he was lucky to be able to support his family.

‘‘There was a lot of people working for a lot less, I got $50 a week and I paid $8 in tax and then my boss charged me $5 a week for the use of his bicycle,’’ he said.

‘‘I didn’t have a bike so he lent me his but charged me for it, needless to say that job lasted just over three weeks ... every time I came home I would say to Shirley, ‘pack up, we’re going home’.’’

While times were tough, the Hudsons quickly established their lives in Shepparton, moving into a number of homes around Shepparton and Mooroopna as their children grew.

Looking back on that time of their lives, Mrs Hudson remembered joining a few community clubs as a way to meet people and gain support.

‘‘We joined the Newcomers Club and you could go out one night a month and then somebody would come and babysit,’’ she said.

‘‘Whatever hours they gave us I had to give those hours back to another couple, and that’s how it worked, it was really great ... that’s more or less how we made friends here.’’

Now living in Mooroopna with their children and grandchildren only a short drive away, the couple looks back on the past 60 years with great fondness.

The Hudsons still cherish the dozens of photographs they have from their wedding day, along with Mrs Hudson’s wedding dress which has been kept in pristine condition.

‘‘I have lots of photos, I’ve still got my wedding dress as well which I brought all the way from England and packed it up, every anniversary I bring it out again,’’ she said.

The Hudsons will be celebrating their diamond anniversary with a party this weekend alongside their family and closest friends.

When asked what advice they would give to couples getting married today, they both chuckled as they reminisced on the past 60 years.

They agreed both must work together and stay positive when times were tough.

‘‘You both have to work together ... I say to (my daughter) Karen many times: we’ve never been unhappy, I don’t know why some people get so unhappy, I just don’t understand it, I never have,’’ Mrs Hudson said.