A CHURCH of Ireland minister has paid tribute to a “special couple” who have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary during the lockdown.
Wilfred Bell was married to Jean Rainey by the Rev McKinney in Clogherney Presbyterian Church on April 20, 1960. The matron of honour was Mrs Valerie Allen, while bridesmaid was Lynda Rainey. Best man was the late Mervyn Bell.
Their wedding reception was held in Dickies Hotel in Dungannon, while the happy couple went to Bournemouth on their honeymoon.
Wilfred and Jean, who live at Garvaghey Hill, outside Ballygawley, have three children, Lorna, Stephen and Ian, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
For many years, the Bells and their family have been faithful members of St Mark’s Parish Church of Ireland in Newtownsaville.
On Monday morning, exactly 60 years to the day they were married, Rev Olivia Downey, rector of the Clogher Cathedral Group of Parishes, posted up a “very special shout-out” to Wilfred and Jean.
At the start of the video, the clergywoman said, “On this day, April 20, 1960, it was a Wednesday, a very special couple said ‘I do’ at Clogherney Presbyterian Church… Of course, they haven’t changed a bit! The special couple are Jean and Wilfred Bell.”
Rev Downey said that Clogherney’s loss had been St Mark’s Newtownsaville’s gain over the years.
She said, “Jean and Wilfred have worked tirelessly and generously for the parish and the whole community for all of their 60 years together. What a formidable team they are!
“Wilfred as secretary of the Select Vestry and Jean as organist for many years, to name just a few of the roles that they have undertaken. They are a very much loved and respected couple by us all.”
The rector added, “I know this isn’t going to be quite the day that Jean, Wilfred and their family had planned. However, I know that, just like the two of you, the family are a very resourceful bunch, so I imagine they will find some way to mark today.”