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Sebastopol couple in their 80s celebrate their first wedding anniversary

BLESSED: Reverend Bill and Pat Clark celebrated their first wedding anniversary on May 3. Photo: Adam Trafford.
BLESSED: Reverend Bill and Pat Clark celebrated their first wedding anniversary on May 3. Photo: Adam Trafford.

WIDOW 80 WLTM (would like to meet) man ... likes dogs, tennis, football, musicals, travelling & Church goer.

The classified notice Pat placed in The Senior newspaper early last year also indicated she lived on the Mornington Peninsula, and was looking for someone with a sense of humour and the view to a permanent relationship.

The first response Pat received was from a farmer. He was nice enough, Pat thought, but she had no interest in living on a farm. "Then about a month later I thought I wasn't going to get any more letters," says Pat. "They said I'd get plenty, but I didn't. I got Bill."

Reverend Bill Clark read the ad after picking up that month's edition of The Senior at his local gym in Ballarat.

"Bill sent me a letter, so I rang him and we were talking every day," recalls Pat. "I couldn't see him for two weeks because he was busy, then he came up and had a cuppa with me. Then he said, 'I'd like you to see Ballarat'. So a fortnight after, I met him in Sorrento and he kissed me on the street. And that was it - I knew. And I never ever had a doubt. Never."

Pat and Bill Clark celebrated their first wedding anniversary earlier this month. Sharing birthdays in November, Pat is now 82 years old and Bill is a sprightly 89.

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They married in the Mornington Church of Christ where Pat was a parishioner, however due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, only five people were allowed to attend (65 of the couple's family and friends witnessed the ceremony via Zoom). The couple wore outfits Pat sourced from the op shop where she worked, and joked with the minister that it felt like an elopement.

This article is from the new edition of Ballarat Seniors magazine. Click here to read the entire publication online.

While Bill and Pat's love story is relatively brief compared to many of their octogenarian counterparts, it's an uplifting reminder that life companions can come along at any age. Despite living their lives in separate parts of regional Victoria for decades, the newlyweds have much in common.

Devoted to the church (Pat's life continues to be centred around the church and pastoral work, while Bill is a retired Uniting Church minister) and busy in the respective communities, they've both been married twice previously, with their respective spouses passing away.

"I hadn't had a relationship since I lost Jimmy," Pat says of her second husband. "I feel blessed." Pat emigrated from Wales 52 years ago with her first husband of 24 years and their four children. Together with her late second husband and their blended families, she has 14 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren.

Bill has a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. He studied aeronautical engineering and worked for Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, before moving to Freighter as a design draftsman and later becoming the Australian engineering manager for American company, Fruehauf Trailer Corporation. He became a lay preacher about 40 years ago, before being ordained as a minister.

"From when I was a kid I'd been part of the church. My grandparents were my sponsors in the church and I was convinced the engineering gifts I had came from God," Bill says, later admitting he thought he'd found a lady who might be his partner, until she decided he was "too serious and too involved in the church".

I DO: A still taken from Bill and Pat's wedding video. Reproduced with permission.

I DO: A still taken from Bill and Pat's wedding video. Reproduced with permission.

For Pat however, it was a match made in heaven. After meeting in March and marrying that May, the couple enjoyed a honeymoon in Port Fairy and lived in Pat's Mornington home until the end of July. Bill's commitments and busy schedule was the deciding factor in Pat selling her house and moving to Sebastopol with her dog, Angel. Like Pat's family and friends, Angel was quickly drawn to Bill once meeting him and has comfortably settled into her new abode.

Pat and Bill continue to find homes for their combined household belongings, but have made time to hang Pat's artwork and install a new kitchen, where they share the job of preparing meals. "Bill asks me, 'What would you like for breakfast in the morning?'," says Pat. "It's lovely to be waited on - I've never been waited on before. The Welsh way is to wait on your husband. I used to lay out Jimmy's clothes and polish his shoes."

"I don't wait on Pat, we work together," suggests Bill. "It's a communal partnership. You share together."

The pair celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a meal at their regular haunt, Sebastopol's Royal Mail Hotel. After a holiday during Easter, they plan to take further adventures in their newly purchased campervan, while getting more familiar with each other's quirks, be it Pat's passion for Richmond Football Club, or Bill's penchant for cooking with spices. Then there's walks around the block twice a day with Angel and the services at various Uniting Church congregations that keeps them busy.

"We have the same values. Bill loves people and so do I," says Pat, before turning to her husband and smiling. "We were blessed, Bill."

This story How a newspaper ad sparked this very beautiful love story first appeared on The Senior.