Couple fly from Australia to Larne to renew wedding vows

Wednesday April 11th 2007

Norman and Eileen, left, with their bridesmaid Margaret Estler and bestman George Taylor at their renewal service. Picture: Ivan Morrow PhotographyAn Australian couple flew half way round the world to renew their wedding vows in the Larne church they were married in 60 years earlier.

During the special service in St Cedma’s Parish Church, Eileen and Norman Greenway were flanked by their original bridesmaid and bestman and surrounded by family and friends.

Larne-born Eileen, 77, was 14 when she was introduced to Norman, now 83, a submariner serving on the HMS Scythian.

“It was August 28 1943. I was at a dance in the town hall. Norman asked if he could take me home and my mother said yes. He asked me to marry him that night,” recalled Eileen.

The couple wed in St Cedma’s on March 20 1947. They lived in Cheshire for five years and had two children, Kathleen and Wilf, before being tempted by a £10 passage to Australia.  They sailed from Scotland on the MV Cameronia, arriving in Freemantle on July 12 1952.

Eileen and Norman on their wedding day. Picture: Ivan Morrow PhotographyBut the job Norman had been promised, building a power station 40 miles from Perth, had been cancelled, and the family’s first home was in a migrant camp for ‘pommies’ on the outskirts of Perth.

With no work to be had, they fled to Rocky Gully in the outback, 250 miles from Perth.

“We lived in tents for two years. We had no water, no electricity, there were open drains and we had to share big concrete baths,” said Eileen. Norman worked for the West Australian government, building houses for ex-servicemen.

After the two years, the family moved to the seaside town of Albany, where they live today.

“We started there from scratch. We arrived on December 18 1954 with £15 to our name. Norman had no job. We had two trunks, two kids, and an empty block with no water or electricity. We lived in a caravan while Norman built us a home,” said Eileen.

“I can never forgive them which is wrong of me as a Christian, but I can’t. They lied about the job. They should have told us.”

Archdeacon Stephen Forde, rector of St Cedma's, Larne, looks over the register with Norman and Eileen Greenway. Picture: Ivan Morrow PhotographyEileen said she has always wanted to renew her vows, and the service took place on the day of their diamond wedding anniversary. At the couple’s side were bridesmaid Margaret Hyslop (now Estler) and bestman George Taylor.

“It was a wonderful service, far beyond anything I ever dreamed of,” said Eileen. “The Rev Stephen Forde was out of this world and so helpful. He made a real service of it.

“I think it was better than doing it the first time around because behind it was all the bad and good we have had in life and we have survived it. When you are getting married you believe it is all going to be beautiful, but at the renewal service we knew we had got over the rough patches and we are still together. We don’t have a lot of responsibilities now, only to each other.”

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