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Terry and Tim: a love story

“We would both sit there for hours with our heads in books...”

Terry, one of our beloved storytellers, recalls how she met her late husband, Tim, and building the foundations of their life together.



When Terry landed one of the British army’s most unpopular postings at the end of World War Two, Cupid may well have been pulling the strings.

For not long after the corporal had been stationed in the Suez ‘Canal Zone' in Egypt – known then for its harsh climate, disease outbreaks and attacks by locals – she met an avid reader and a bad dancer named Tim, who went on to steal her heart.

With hundreds of British men to every woman stationed there, Terry had her pick – and remembers her table at every dance being covered in drinks from admirers.

Waiting for ‘the one’

Her wait for ‘the one’ took three years and came right at the end of her posting. She was sent to do a course in Egypt’s Eastern desert in 1948, and caught the eye of a sergeant in the education corps.

According to family lore, Tim was sat in the baking heat when Terry walked past. He took one look at the dimples on the backs of her knees and made up his mind to marry her.

Through accident or design, the pair ended up sat next to one another on the course. They hit it off – giggling over how pompous the trainer was – and so began a courtship of snatched off-duty moments.

One of their early dates set the tone. Terry had already asked a friend to check Tim’s army record to ensure he wasn’t married. Then, determined to enjoy a trip up the Nile to the Mediterranean, she took her new beau out in a boat, even though she had never sailed before. She winged it and Tim was none the wiser.

When they used to meet up, they always would have a Penguin paperback in their pocket to read while they were waiting. Their bond over a shared love of reading was to last throughout their marriage. “We would both sit there for hours with our heads in books, sometimes in separate rooms!”

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Fate sails in

However, fate intervened, and Tim was posted to Malta. They wrote to one another regularly for the three months they were apart, and unbeknownst to one another, ended up sailing home to England on exactly the same day.

It wasn’t long before Tim, who had enrolled at Manchester University to study chemistry, got down on one knee and asked Terry to marry him.

Terry, who was a keen dancer – and very good at it – had a question first. “I asked him if he could dance, and he said, No’ so I told him, Well I don't know if I want to marry you then!’”

It turned out he was a terrible dancer – so much so he had a reputation for it. “I promised Tim a waltz, which is the easiest to dance. He hopped about through it and we just about managed. Later I got him to have lessons and though he tried, he didn’t take to it. He was much more of an outdoor type.”

Making a life together

They wed the same year they met, in October 1948 – but not after a hunt to find a priest to marry a Roman Catholic (Tim) and a lapsed member of the Church of England (Terry). They settled on Warrington registry office and all the neighbours from Terry’s North Norfolk village pooled their rations so her mum could bake a three-tier cake for the day.

They were married for 57 years, having a son and daughter, before Tim passed away in 2006. Terry nursed him through Alzheimer’s but after his health went downhill, he moved into a care home.

She admits life was difficult after he died. “But I'd been lonely for a long time before then because Tim had Alzheimer’s. When he forgot my name, it upset me, but then he stopped talking altogether… it nearly did me in.”

Now she says her weekly call from an Age UK telephone friend, Katherine, is a vital resource. “She’s a light in the wilderness. She’s bright, nice to talk to, I enjoy her company. It’s a joy to know her.”

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Last updated: Feb 22 2023

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