Luton couple’s secret of a long, happy marriage

Luton couple Derrick and Muriel Baxter who are celebrating their diamond wedding on November 17, 2016
Luton couple Derrick and Muriel Baxter who are celebrating their diamond wedding on November 17, 2016
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Four little words – they’re all you need for a blissfully happy marriage, according to octogenarian Derrick Baxter.

And he should know – he and his wife Muriel celebrate their diamond wedding on Thursday (November 17).

Derrick and Muriel Baxter on their wedding day on November 17, 1956, at St Luke's, Leagrave

Derrick and Muriel Baxter on their wedding day on November 17, 1956, at St Luke's, Leagrave

Derrick, 82, says: “It’s important to respect each other but saying ‘Yes dear’ and ‘No dear’ is also helpful.”

The former jack-of-all-trades is quite a comedian, according to daughter Carole Webb, who lives in Welwyn.

“He does party tricks for the smaller members of the family and is called ‘Magic Grandad’ by the little ones,” she says.

Derrick Thomas Baxter and Muriel Joy met old time dancing at Whipsnade Village Hall.

Carole says: “They shared a taxi back home. Dad managed to get locked out of his house and ended up at my grandparents’ on a camp bed in the front room. I guess it just developed from there.”

The pair were the second couple to marry at St Luke’s Church in Leagrave. Derrick was best man for the first.

He wore his RAF demob suit and his bride made her own dress. Times were tight and they couldn’t afford a honeymoon.

The Baxters – who now live in Round Green and have three great grandchildren – both went to school at Beech Hill.

Derrick had various jobs and went from being a baker/confectioner to draughtsman with British Aerospace’s predecessor. When the company moved from Luton to Flitton, he decided it was a good opportunity for the family – which by then included two more children, Wendy and Michael – to emigrate to Australia.

Carole explains: “My aunt, uncle and cousins were already there and we lived in Speers Point, which is about 100 miles north of Sydney.

“But my Mother was homesick and my Dad couldn’t get a decent job as they didn’t recognise his qualifications.”

So the Baxters returned to England where Derrick ran a car and body repair business.

Carole says: “Mum’s always had her feet firmly on the ground and ensured we were all fed and dressed even through the harder times when Dad was made redundant.

“She’s still the same – she’s a silver surfer and helps out older friends who don’t have a computer.”

The diamond anniversary will be celebrated at the Lilley Arms with close family and friends.