By Danielle Kutchel
A love story that began on a glitzy night in Dandenong has just celebrated its 60th chapter.
Val and Graeme Pownceby are still very much in love, six decades down the track, and are proud of their milestone and their life together.
Now living in Narre warren, they met at a dance at the Dandenong Scout Hall one Wednesday night when they were both 17.
Asked if they remember what they thought when they first saw each other, Graeme grins and chuckles, “I’ll tell you that later!”
Val admits she had her eye on someone else on the day, but he wasn’t interested in her. Graeme asked her for a dance, and the rest is history.
“We went together for about two and a half, three years. My parents said we could never get married until we turned 21. My sister did the right thing, but they loved Graeme so much they weakened and so we got married when I was only 20,” she reminisces.
Graeme’s best friend since kindergarten was the best man, and they all still catch up each week for a drink and some nibbles, six decades later. It’s a respected tradition in the two households, and Graeme says you have to have a good excuse to get out of it.
Two boys came along soon after the wedding, with a bit of a gap before their youngest, a daughter, was born.
Graeme worked as a cabinet maker for his whole life, right up until his retirement.
Val worked as a secretary for a debt collector before leaving the workforce, but went back in later years to work in catering for the racing industry, where she stayed for 28 years.
They now have five beautiful grandkids, and hope that great-grandkids will be along in the future.
In 60 years, the couple says they have never had a big fight.
“Any day now!” Graeme jokes.
Asked what the secret to a happy marriage is, Graeme says that every night, they would have a drink between 4.00pm and 5.00pm, sitting and talking with each other.
“It only lasted 20 minutes, but it was every night and we liked doing that,” Val explains.
Now retired, the couple enjoys travelling – first in a caravan but now on cruise ships that take them to ports around the world.
And their passion for one another is still just as strong as it was in the heady early days of their courtship.
“We’ve done a lot, and we’re happy. I still love him,” Val says with a soft smile, and Graeme softly agrees.