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Newquay childhood sweethearts finally marry after lost love

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 02, 2013

Eileen and Warner  at their   Newquay home after tying the knot, 60 years on. Top, the couple back in 1950

Eileen and Warner at their Newquay home after tying the knot, 60 years on. Top, the couple back in 1950

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Childhood sweethearts who were forced apart as teenagers by their parents because they were too young have finally tied to knot – in their 70s.

Devoted Eileen Lockley and Warner Billington fell in love 60 years ago but her father refused permission for them to wed because of her age.

The couple had to split following their two-year romance and later met new partners and were each married to other people for over 50 years.

But after both were widowed their romance was rekindled following a tearful reunion at a railway station – and they have now married each other in their 70s.

Eileen, 78, of Newquay, said: "We have simply picked up where we left off. It's like being teenage sweethearts all over again. It's as though we have never been apart. As well as loving each other, we are good companions, just as we were when we first met. In fact, we are just like an old married couple."

Warner, 79, added: "I thought Eileen's father was wrong – I still do – but somehow, we just drifted apart after that. I never saw Eileen again for 58 years.

"We both had very happy marriages but anyone who tells you that they don't remember their first love is fibbing.

"Both Eileen and I often wondered about what might have happened if things had worked out differently. But we don't dwell on it now."

Eileen, then 16, met Warner, 17, in 1950 when they were near neighbours in Smethwick in the West Midlands.

They shared the same sense of humour, liked the same films and enjoyed outings to the seaside.

But the courtship was no bed of roses as Warner had enlisted in the RAF for a five-year stint and could only see his beloved sweetheart while home on leave.

They kept their love alive by writing to each other every day but when the couple decided to become engaged, Eileen's widowed father said that, at 18 and 19, they were too young.

Two years after the tearful split, office worker Eileen met a new suitor, Jack Lenton, of Birmingham, and they got married two years later, going on to have a son and a daughter.

The couple lived in Sutton Coldfield and then Great Barr, Birmingham, before moving to Newquay in 1972. They were married for 54 years until Jack died in 2006 at the age of 73.

Three years after breaking up with Eileen, Warner started going out with a new girlfriend, Gillian Thomas and they married two years later.

They lived in Brandhall, Oldbury, and then in Sutton Coldfield, and had three sons. The couple were married for 53 years until Gillian died in 2010, aged 70.

A mutual friend told Eileen of Warner's bereavement and she rang him to offer her condolences.

Over the next few months they chatted regularly on the phone – reminiscing about happy days gone by.

A year later Warner plucked up the courage to ask Eileen to visit him in Sutton Coldfield, and met her at the town's railway station – "hair all slicked back and roses at the ready".

Warner moved in with Eileen in Newquay in 2011 with the approval of their families.

He said: "A couple of months later, I asked Eileen to marry me. I said: 'I don't want to introduce you as my partner but as my wife'."

The couple were married at Truro Register Office with Eileen's sister, Marg, and son John as witnesses. Two of Warner's sons were among the guests.

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