By Rebecca Fraser
A CHANCE encounter on a busy street corner secured a lifetime of love and dedication for an Eumemmerring couple.
Daphne and George Spencer say the six decades they have spent together have been nothing short of extraordinary.
So much so that Mr Spencer is now writing a book documenting their colourful life.
The couple migrated to Australia from England when they were aged in their 30s and the birth of five children, times of financial struggle, and a debilitating disease have brought the inseparable pair even closer.
Forty-five years ago Mrs Spencer, now 75, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the grandmother of 18 and great grandmother of 10 was told she would be wheelchair bound within five years and dead within seven.
However, Mr Spencer said his wife’s sheer determination and strength kept her out of a wheelchair for some 15 years and to this day she was still going strong and they lived a happy and full life.
The couple met when Mr Spencer was at school with his wife’s brother and sister and he admits that to begin with, he did not think very highly of his future bride.
“We have known each other all our lives,” he said.
“I went to school with her brother and sister who were my age. She was four years younger and I used to disregard her as a snotty nosed kid when we were about eight or nine.”
Years later Mr Spencer joined the Navy where he worked on anti-submarine detection.
On a return trip home he happened to bump into his future wife on a street corner and the pair recognised each other immediately.
It was October 1947. He was 21, she was 17 and they married three months later on Boxing Day.
“I asked her if she was doing anything that night and if she wanted to catch up for a beer and a flick (movie).
“I went to pick her up and her mum answered.
“She said to me ‘are you George Spencer?’ and, of course, I said ‘yes’.
“Then she said ‘do you remember so many years ago when an old lady up the road slipped on ice and fell over and spilled her groceries everywhere and you helped her bring them home’,” he retold.
As the story unfolded it was soon revealed that it was in fact his future wife’s mother who he had helped with the groceries close to 10 years before.
From that moment Mr Spencer, who turns 80 in July, said he could not do a thing wrong and was immediately welcomed into the family.
It soon became clear to everyone that they were very much in love.
Mr Spencer said when they first arrived in Australia with four children in tow many people had offered them generous assistance.
“When we came from England we did not have a cracker.
“The first week we lived on bread and butter.
“We had bought the children watches on the way over and had to leave them with the milk bar as credit until I got my first wage,” he said.
Mr Spencer also recalled thoughts of a man who sold him a car when theirs had broken down and let him repay him $5 pounds a month.
He also spoke of a man who helped the family find a home in Ringwood so they could move from the caravan and the couple who gave them a loan when they lived in Glen Iris so they could start his own spray painting company.
Due to her illness, Mrs Spencer has become heat sensitive and cannot go outside on days hotter than 25 degrees.
Because of this the couple travel every winter and go on a mini holiday nearly every month.
Mr Spencer said they were looking forward to the next chapter of their marriage.
By Rebecca Fraser