A life of love and laughter

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Celebrating this milestone anniversary today Eileen (91) and Jack (93) said they thanked God for their blessed gifts of good health and lasting sense of humour.

There is never a dull moment and certainly lots of laughs when spending an hour with them at their home, Clair Val in St Saviour, where they have lived since being married at St Ouen’s Church on 18 January 1938.

The young Eileen – daughter of John Romeril Le Marquand and Edith Bosdet Laurens of Waterlane Farm Dairy in St Ouen – met Jack Le Sueur in the mid-1930s when travelling home on the bus.

His stop was at St Peter which was one before hers, and after travelling together a few times he decided to stay on until it was time for her to get off.

‘I asked him what he was doing and he said he was going with me.

I couldn’t ask him in for a cup of tea because that wasn’t allowed in those days.

So, after walking me to my home he went back to St Peter,’ she said.

As a young man, Jack worked with his father, John, and started an amazing series of journeys to America over 30 years, escorting herds of Jersey cattle from the Island to their new owners there.

For him, a unique lifelong empathy with the Jersey cow had started.

‘She’s the finest cow in the world – she put this Island on the world map and can live anywhere – even in North Canada in very low temperatures,’ he said proudly.

Over the years, this path took him across the Atlantic to the USA and Canada no less than 54 times, either accompanying herds on the often difficult journey there, or caring for cattle when they were being shown on the World Cattle Bureau circuit.

Before they were married, Eileen was already making a busy life for herself in St Ouen, having joined a number of societies and being a regular churchgoer.

Moving from her beloved parish to St Saviour after the wedding came as a big shock to her.

‘I cried for a month because I missed St Ouen’s so much.

But after a while I was asked by members of Eden Chapel to join them and I have been there ever since,’ she said.

During the Occupation the couple had to grow what the Germans ordered, which was mainly wheat, and they helped as many people as possible by supplying them with eggs and other scarce things.

Their son, Guy, was born towards the end of the Occupation and daughter Sadie afterwards.

Guy went on to work at the Airport for over 40 years and Sadie, a talented entertainer in her own right, runs an organic dairy farm with her husband, Jonathan Rennard.

A lifetime supporter of the promotion of Jersey French, Eileen became a member of L’Assembliée d’Jèrriais in 1951 and remains committed to its roots in Jersey tradition.

‘Jersey French is what’s kept our Island what it is.

I’m so pleased it is taught in our schools,’ she said.

Fully immersed in the community throughout her life, the list of clubs and associations she has contributed to is endless, some of which she continues to support.

The couple reflected that it was because they both had their own life experiences – Jack on his cattle travels and Eileen within the community – that their marriage had remained so strong.

‘Our marriage lasted because we did our own things and could share them when we were together.

We never got on each other’s nerves,’ Jack said.

Whenever Jack was away he would write to Eileen – letters which she treasures and said she would have in her coffin when she died.

All those miles away in America Jack was under no illusion that Eileen was pining away in the kitchen, though.

‘She sent me copies of the Jersey Evening Post and I could see all of the reports of the events she had been involved with,’ he said.

Although they said they never argued, it isn’t because there was never a disagreement.

‘Jack always said it took two to argue and went silent if I was annoyed and so after I banged the door and went outside we usually ended up laughing.

He turns everything into a joke,’ she said.

In fact, they both have an infectious sense of humour which is joyful to share and keeps them young at heart.

Jack said there were two pacemakers in his life – one for his health and the other one being Eileen.

The couple, who have one grandchild and five great grandchildren, are spending their anniversary at a whist drive at St Saviour’s Parish Hall.

Their main celebration will be on Sunday at a family lunch at Hotel L’Horizon.

Asked by JEP photographer Matt Hotton to pose for an anniversary photograph, Eileen instructed Jack to stand up beside her.

‘We don’t want people thinking we are two old crocks,’ she told him.

As she adjusts his hair and spectacles he reminds her he is not Tom Cruise.

He is still a star in her eyes, though, and they both continue to shine together.

* Happy wedding anniversary in Jersey Norman-French

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