Ruby wedding fever grips tiny village as 17 couples simultaneously celebrate 40th anniversary
16:17 GMT, 22 May 2012
With divorce rates on the rise, 40th wedding anniversaries are becoming a increasingly rare.
So one couple celebrating their Ruby Wedding, were shocked to discover that 16 other couples in their tiny Welsh village were also set to celebrate the milestone.
To mark the occasion Rosalind and Keith Hilton hosted a champagne reception in Higher Kinnerton, Flintshire, for all 34 long-wedded locals and are now planning on doing the same in ten years time.
Cause for celebration: Seventeen couples from the village of Higher Kinnerton marked their 40th wedding anniversary together
Rosalind, 62, who got married in 1972, made the discovery after posting a notice in the village newsletter asking if anyone would like to take part in a joint Ruby Wedding celebration.
She came up with the idea while talking with a friend who got married in the same year: 'We were discussing what we were going to do for our ruby wedding and wondered how many people there were in the village who got married in the same year.
'I got a huge response – 17 couples, 34 people in total.'
The couples gathered at the Royal Oak pub and to her surprise, everybody who came along already knew each other.
Kinnerton has a post office, two pubs, a village shop, and just under 1,000 residents, but there was a big housing programme in the village during the 70s which saw an influx of young couples, and many have remained.
Rosalind and Keith Hilton pictured on their wedding day in 1972 (left) and still happily married today (right)
Rosalind added: 'It was unusual that we've all been here since then. And we're still here, we've all stayed, which says a lot about the village. Every single couple has had children and some are grandparents. Our children went to school together.
Rosalind herself was a 22-year-old student at Chester College when she married Keith, then 26, on July 30, 1972.
Keith said: 'I was out with a friend and she was out with a friend and we just met at the Boat House on the river in Chester. We had a drink and agreed to meet up again and it just went from there.'
Keith was working for Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port at the time, but then left to go to college also. The couple were apart for a year when Rosalind finished her studies and went home to Bolton, but had soon set a date for their wedding.
They put a deposit on a new house in Higher Kinnerton, then still being built, just before the wedding. The couple are now retired, but Rosalind taught French and Keith was a civil servant. They have two sons who are just about to get married themselves.
The Hiltons are now planning to hold a similar celebration when they reach their 50th. Rosalind added: 'Everyone says we want to do it again in 10 years time – hopefully we'll all still be here.'