Maddiston couple’s big day was a first for them and the minister

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When John and Margaret Rankin were married on this day (Thursday) 60 years ago it was a new experience for them ... and the man who performed the ceremony.

The couple tied the knot in Reddingmuirhead Methodist Church on October 10, 1959 in a service conducted by former missionary Reverend J Ramsay Moore.

Margaret (80) – whose maiden name is Chalmers – said: “It was his first ever wedding ceremony – so there were three nervous people in the church that day.”

The Maddiston couple first set eyes on each other in 1957 at the wedding of Margaret’s cousin John Muirhead, who invited his pal John Rankin along as a guest.

Margaret and John liked each other from the start, but they did not start going out as a couple until John, who had been serving in Korea on his national service, returned from his stint with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment down in Catterick.

John (84), from Brightons, said: “We just clicked together and that was us.”

“It just sort of happened,” added Margaret, from Reddingmuirhead.

When the newly married Rankins first set up their home together John was working with Alan Wilson at South Bellsdyke Farm as a tractor and combine harvester driver.

He said: “Margaret hardly ever saw me come harvest time.”

Margaret had been working in Boots the Chemist in Falkirk before she married John, but had to leave that job.

“Boots didn’t keep on married women at that time,” she said.

The Rankin family soon grew to include daughter Diane (59) and son Thomas (56). As the children got older, Margaret worked at Steins Brickworks in Whitecross until it closed down and she became a home help in and around Maddiston.

John, meanwhile, left the farm when Diane was born and started operating heavy excavators for Central Regional Council. He moved onto operating heavy machinery at Lomond Plant before retiring at the age of 73.

He said: “The best boss I ever had, Sandra Easton, said ‘you can’t retire – there’s work for you’.”

John still keeps his hand in, helping friends and neighbours fix things like lawn mowers.

The couple enjoyed many a caravan holiday in the past and, when they got a little older, started renting cottages – Berwick becoming a favourite destination.

“We never went abroad,” said Margaret.

John added: “I saw enough of the world on my national service.”

Members of the Rankin family – which now includes grandchildren Gemma, Leah, Danielle and Ben and great grandchildren David, Lailabelle, Skye and twins Rex and Indi, as well as another baby on the way in December – will gather in The Beancross Restaurant this weekend to mark the couple’s big milestone.

So what is the secret to a long and happy marriage?

John said: “We’ve had our ups and downs with health and things like that, but we’ve always looked after each other, working hand in hand.”