ARARAT - Harold and Sylvia Bright are one of Ararat's most well known couples and such is their popularity that a large crowd gathered recently to help celebrate an amazing achievement, their 70th wedding anniversary.
On the day Harold and Sylvia were joined by their six children Lorraine Keith, Alan Bright, Geoffrey Bright, Pamela Nichols, Jennifer Hendrickson and Gail Motton, along with the majority of their 18 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and a number of close friends, some of whom had travelled from around the country and world to mark the special occasion.
Son Alan said there was a number of special presentations held on the day.
"The mayor Paul Hooper attended and presented a certificate and bouquet of flowers on behalf of the Ararat Rural City," he said.
"He also spoke about the achievement of getting to 70 years and being so actively involved in the town, especially in the football for so many years, it was very good.
"We received six certificates, the first was from Joe Helper the member for Ripon who is a great mate of Dad's, then there was one from the Governor of Victoria, Alex Chernov, the Premier of Victoria, Dennis Napthine, Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, Governor General, Quentin Bryce and the Queen.
"What I decided to do was get each of the children starting from the youngest to the oldest to present Mum and Dad with the certificates."
Harold, who turned 95 in October, couldn't believe the attention he and Sylvia's platinum anniversary attracted.
"It was wonderful to receive them all. How did they find out, I wonder?" he said.
The well known couple's story began in Dimboola in January 1941 when Harold, who was born in Mount Lonarch near Amphitheatre, met Sylvia, born in Kaniva.
Harold recalls the early months of their relationship being a testing time, as the pair were separated by distance.
"In 1941 before I'd met Sylvia I'd put in to be transferred to Balranald (New South Wales) because I was a fireman on the railways," he said.
"I got the job at Balranald much to Sylvia's disappointment because we had just started to go together and I had to leave in January 1943.
"Of course we wrote letters, but correspondence was pretty hard then because you had no telephones in houses. We would have to go to the post office to ring up."
About three months into the long distance relationship Sylvia had decided Harold was the one and moved to Belranald where she soon found work and the pair grew closer.
By the middle of that year they became engaged and were married in Dimboola on December 14, 1943.
"It was a quiet wedding because Sylvia had just lost her brother in the air force," Harold said.
"We spent seven more years at Balranald before we came back to Ararat in 1949.
"I got interested in football then and joined the Ararat Football Club and have been involved with them ever since. Sylvia was on the ladies' committee at the club for years too."
Both Harold and Sylvia are life members of the Ararat Football/Netball Club and it is their association through the club that they have become so well known in the community.
Harold said it is the love he and Sylvia have for their family and one another that has seen them surpass seven decades of married life.
"I have a wonderful family. I am sure we have never had an argument in our lives," he said.
"We are a very close knit family and I think that is what made our lives much easier, especially as you get older.
"That is the greatest gift I have ever had in my life, is to have such a wonderful family and friends around me."
The next big event for the Bright family will come in May this year when Sylvia celebrates her 90th birthday.