Classic story of young love

20:41, Feb 25 2014

The story of Ian and June Gleeson is as classic as they come, from love at first sight when they met as teenagers to 65 years of marriage together.

The couple met through Ian's sister who was boarding with June's parents in Blenheim.

He was just 16 and June was not yet 18, but the youngsters fell for each other right away.

"I was very shy," June says.

"We had never had any other boyfriends or girlfriends and we never did after we met, except each other."

They were married two years later and moved to Wairau Valley where Ian was living and working at a grocery store.


They still remember the early years of their romance; going to dances, the movies, the Old Palace and other social events together.

Being such a young couple meant they had to start from scratch, but through hard work they were able to buy a cob cottage in the valley for the grand sum of £350 in 1951.

They lived in the home for 41 years, raising five sons and a daughter there.

Ian spent just more than 30 years working as a truck driver before picking up skills in the painting and wallpaper trade and finally opening his own business in 1985.

It is a trade he kept through their move to Blenheim in 1992, until he finally retired in 2002.

When not working he gave of his time in the Wairau Valley volunteer fire brigade.

He was a founding member of the fire brigade and stayed with it for 37 years.

Because Ian was often away for several days at a time working, it fell to June to do much of the work of raising six children.

It kept her busy, but in the long run the big family has meant there are plenty of helping hands for her and Ian during their retirement years.

"We are very lucky, all of our children except one son live in Blenheim.

"It's great to have so much of our family nearby - they are a great help to us," June says.

The couple are still keen gardeners and have an enviable garden at their home in Springlands.

In their younger years they enjoyed indoor bowls, and Ian served as the president of Marlborough Indoor Bowls for three years.

Though June did play, she was more involved in senior marching after they moved to Blenheim.

She also worked in the wine industry for seven years.

"I was working out in the vineyards with a big group of other ladies.

"We had great fun together," she says.

The couple plan on celebrating their big day with friends and family at a morning tea.

A more formal celebration was held over the weekend with 50 family members from New Zealand and Australia arriving for the celebration.

"It was wonderful to have them all here.

"We are very lucky to have such a great family," June says.

The Marlborough Express