WALTZ: Elaine and Laurie Stephenson have their first dance after they renewed their vows at a Valentines Day ceremony at Whiddon Aged Care Home Grafton.
WALTZ: Elaine and Laurie Stephenson have their first dance after they renewed their vows at a Valentines Day ceremony at Whiddon Aged Care Home Grafton. Adam Hourigan Photography

Laurie and Elaine fan the flames of love

LAURIE Stephenson first wooed his wife Elaine at a dance at the Coaldale Hall more than 58 years ago.

Today, the 83-year-old proved he still has what it takes, as the pair waltzed their way across the Whiddon Aged Care Home's dining room following the much anticipated renewal of the couple's vows.

 

Attended by friends, Whiddon group residents and staff, the event was the highlight of the aged care facility's Valentine's Day celebrations.

A photo taken at their first union sat at the bridal table as the pair stood under a wedding arch and promised, for a second time, to love and be there for each other always.

 

Laurie and Elaine Stephenson on their wedding day in 1959.
Laurie and Elaine Stephenson on their wedding day in 1959. Adam Hourigan Photography

It was an easy promise to make considering it is one they have already kept for more than 57 years.

"We don't really need to renew them because we've stuck to our vows right from the start, but we just thought it would be nice if we did that today," Mrs Stephenson said.

When they first met, Laurie was a champion campdrafter, and both shared a passion for animals. The inseparable pair were soon married, and moved to a property at Mylneford where they bred cattle and stock horses.

Since Laurie moved to Whiddon last August, Mrs Stephenson has visited her husband every day.

She said it was great to be able to show off their love after all these years.

"It's lovely for them all to come and the residents love something different," she said.

"It's very important really, isn't it?"

Whiddon Group deputy director Cathy Tees said both the staff and volunteers had plenty of fun helping to organise the event, setting up the room and adding finishing touches.

"It's fantastic, I've got to say a really big thank you to all the staff and volunteers," she said.

"A lot of extra hours have gone into planning the day and putting finishing touches on everything."

They even went as far as to organise a wedding ceremony between the facility's pet therapy dog Leo (who was also the groomsman during the Stephensons' ceremony) and a miniature chihuahua called Princess - a first for marriage celebrant Jeannie Pienaar.

 

The wedding party, with celebrant Jeannie Pienaar, Elaine and Laurie Stephenson, and Vorna Cooper (in blue) with 103-year-old maid of honour Irene Crispin and best dog Leo.
The wedding party, with celebrant Jeannie Pienaar, Elaine and Laurie Stephenson, and Vorna Cooper (in blue) with 103-year-old maid of honour Irene Crispin and best dog Leo. Adam Hourigan Photography

"That was just some fun for the clients," Ms Tees laughed.

"Leo and Princess are well-loved members of our Whiddon family.

"It's all fun but (the vow renewal) was very romantic, it was very beautiful to do this.

"Elaine's a lovely lady and Laurie's a gorgeous man. He's a real gentleman."

Others thought so too, including the couple's long-term friend Vorna Cooper.

She told The Daily Examiner it was "just wonderful" to see the pair still happily married after so many years.

"They just devoted themselves to each other," she said.

"Their relationship is unreal, one of the best."



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