They say you’re never too old to fall in love and Eastbourne couple George Kirby and Doreen Luckie provide living proof such words are true.
After 27 years together, the couple plan to say their vows in front of family and friends at The Langham Hotel, where they now live, on June 13, 2015.
We got on straight away. He liked the roses in my front garden
However, this will be no ordinary ceremony, as the day will also celebrate George’s 103rd birthday, making him the oldest man in the UK to get married.
Not only that, but the pair will also break a world record for having a combined age of 194 years and 281 days on their wedding day.
The remarkable couple met in 1988 through an organisation called September Song, which arranged introductions for mature people seeking friendship. George, then 76, was divorced from his second wife while Doreen had been widowed three years earlier after 36 years of marriage.
After being matched based on their likes, dislikes and general interests, the pair started writing to each other before Doreen invited George to visit her home in Staplehurst, Kent.
“We got on straight away,” said Doreen. “He liked the roses in my front garden!”
The couple began to meet regularly and eventually set up home together in 1990. In October 2013, they settled in Eastbourne and now live permanently at The Langham Hotel, which is owned by George’s son Neil and his wife Wendy.
George was born in London in June 1912 and joined the RAF as a physical education instructor in 1933, where he stayed for 25 years.
He was a passionate and talented boxer, winning every single one of the 60 fights he entered during his life.
In 2009, he was guest of honour at the Army London Regiment at a dinner and charity boxing match in London.
After leaving the RAF in 1958, George struggled to find a job.
For a brief while, he managed a restaurant in Penge before having stints as a chauffeur, at a youth club and working overnight in a petrol station, among other things.
Latterly, George worked at Queen Mary’s Children’s Hospital, sterilising medical instruments and, long after retirement age, he became a gardener for a doctor.
He finally gave up work, and lifting dumbbells, at the age of 94, although continued to tend Doreen’s garden in Kent.
He puts his longevity down to having kept himself tough and strong.
Doreen was born in Brixton in September 1923 and spent much of her career as a shorthand typist for the Director of Public Prosecutions at Temple, where she had to type out documents and transcripts of court cases including those of the Kray twins and Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
Now, aged 92, Doreen also keeps herself fit doing yoga classes by the sea every week.
Instead of wedding presents, the pair would like to raise as much money as they can for their chosen charities.
George has asked for donations to the Royal Air Forces Association and Doreen for the Women’s Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust, as she was a WREN during the Second World War. To make a donation, cheques payable to ‘George Kirby’ for RAFA, or to ‘Doreen Luckie’ for WRNS Benevolent Trust, should be posted to them c/o Langham Hotel, 43-49 Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 8LE.
“At their age, there’s nothing that they want materially and so they would like to raise as much money as they can for their chosen charities,” added Neil.