‘Love blossomed after I hit her with a snowball’

The Oxford Times: Ray and Barbara Smith, of Yarnton, fell in love following a snowball fight.  Picture: OX63753 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Ray and Barbara Smith, of Yarnton, fell in love following a snowball fight. Picture: OX63753 Damian Halliwell

SIXTY years of marriage started with a snowball fight between two teenagers on Oxford’s Abingdon Road.

Ray and Barbara Smith say they have never had a bad fight since as they mark 60 years of marriage today. Mr Smith, a former Cowley plant worker, started throwing snowballs at Barbara (née Williams) as was she walking home from her job as a clerk aged 15 in 1950.

She said: “I was trying to get home. He had these snowballs and he was trying to pelt them at me to stop me from going home.

“It was a bit of fun. He wouldn’t let me go past without agreeing to go on a date with him.

“We started talking and then we started going out.”

Mr Smith, who was a shop assistant at Twinings tea shop in St Giles at the time, said: “It was a really cold day with lots of snow.

“I have got to be honest. I did love her from the beginning and I wanted to get her attention.”

The pair were engaged in 1951 and married at St Aldate’s Church in 1953. They now live in Dashwood Avenue in Yarnton and have three children and nine great-grandchildren.

Mrs Smith, 79, said the secret to their long and happy marriage had been co-operation.

She said: “It is just being honest with one another and getting through the hard times. And not going to bed on an argument.” She said they shared a sense of humour and her husband has always been a joker.

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Mr Smith, now 80, added: “We get on compatibly very well. I don’t think we have ever had a big argument.”

Mrs Smith worked as a housekeeper at Sobell House Hospice in Oxford for 12 years and as a photocopier at the Bodleian Library until she retired aged 61.

After working at Twinings, Mr Smith worked at the Grimley and Hughes store in Cornmarket Street before he was called up for two years of National Service with the Coldstream Guards.

After National Service Mr Smith got a job at the Pressed Steel works in Cowley where over more than 40 years he worked his way up to the post of production manager.

He is now the vice chairman of the Oxford and Reading branch of the Coldstream Guards Association.

The couple have three daughters – Teresa Murphy, 58, Nichola Simpson, 57, and Lindsey Howlett, 52. They also have nine grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Mr Smith added: “We think the world of them all.”

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