A Blue Sapphire achievement
PUBLISHED: 14:34 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 20 February 2013
Henfield's best-known couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with a house full of villagers and recalled how they married at the village church in deep snow during the Second World War. Mike Beardall tells us more.
FRANK and Olive Skilton, of Church Street, Henfield, showed family, friends and neighbours their newspaper wedding cutting of February 1945, the week after their wedding.
The wedding of Frank (90) and Olive (89), at St. Peters Church on January 27 1945, was described by the reporter as of a quiet nature because Olive had lost her father, who died suddenly while working outdoors, just three weeks before.
Described in the County Times as two of Henfields popular young people, Frank and Olive are both Henfield-born and were at the village infants school together.
After a childhood as friends they realised they belonged together at Olives sister Joyces wedding in 1944. Joyce was at last weeks celebration.
That year soldier Frank was wounded after the D-Day landings in France. Previously he had been a Desert Rat with Montgomery in North Africa and then fought in Italy.
He left for Normandy with the Queens Royal Regiment on D-Day plus two June 8, 1944. Two weeks later, as a radio operator, he was wounded in Caen by a shell splinter from an explosion which killed the man next to him.
He returned to Henfield for two months recovery before going back to France and then Germany, where he ended up in Hamburg at the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945.
At the time of their marriage Frank was home on leave from France and he and Olive decided to get married straight away. They subsequently had four children and nine grandchildren.Olive, who had been a munitions and land worker during the war, and Frank celebrated their long marriage, with an open house for friends and family.
Franks brothers John and Dick were there. His other brother, Don, and sister Peggy live in Canada. Another sister, Pam, died some years ago.
After Frank and Olives wedding, they moved to their present home, Croft Villas, Church Street where Olive has lived since 1936. She moved there with her parents and sister Joyce from Golden Square, Henfield, where both were born.
Frank, the oldest of six children, was born on Christmas Eve 1919 above his parents shop in London Road, Henfield, which was known as Skiltons Sweet Shop (famous for home-made lemonade and ice cream) until 1963 and it continued as Fletchers Sweet Shop after his mother sold it.
In Victorian times it had been a shop owned by Franks mothers parents. The Skiltons are one of the most gregarious families in Henfield. Frank served with the Royal Mail for 37 years, until his retirement, and he has always been active in many village organisations including Henfield Football Club, the Scouts, the BP Guild, Henfield Self-Help Group (which he and Olive helped run and still belong to), Henfield Choral Society, and the British Heart Foundation. Olive belonged to the Girls Friendly Society and the Young Wives Group.
Frank won a bravery medal at the age of 16 for rescuing a fellow Henfield Scout, John Nicholls, in the sea off the Isle of Wight. They remained lifelong friends.
After the celebrations, Frank and Olive reflected on a life filled with family and friends and a lifetime home only 150 yards from Franks birthplace.
Frank said: Henfield is a wonderful village and I cant think of a better place to live.