Allan Takes Aim Blog

Family: the gold of marriage

Posted on: 13 October 2011

Original article published in The Chronicle Canberra, Tuesday, 11 October, 2011  

As my columns are usually about politics, some people might be surprised by this one. It is not about politics but a Golden Wedding celebration that brought home to me why marriage is that union of man and woman that confers on them the opportunity to enjoy a range of unique experiences unachievable by any other union of two people. While some people might disagree with me it seems to that no other union of two people can produce the same range of opportunities and unique experiences.

This Golden Wedding, celebrated on Friday 30th September, was one Boadicea and I were glad to attend because the couple celebrating their fifty years of marriage had been guests of Boadicea and I when we celebrated the same mark in our married life.

In this case the celebrants were Doug and Brenda Sarah who, relatively speaking, are unknown to most Canberrans (a situation of their own choice) despite their outstanding contribution to Canberra’s tourism industry and helped make Canberra known around the world. Indeed during their more than thirty years of building and developing Cockington Green, now one of Australia’s best known international family tourist attractions, their efforts at making Canberra known is better than that of many well – known Canberrans. 

That Cockington Green was a family attraction was revealed when the Master of Ceremonies, Brenda and Doug’s son Mark, said on behalf of himself and his sisters that although they had worked there and were still working there they were not and never had been hostages of the business. He said the love of his mum and dad for each other and for him and his sisters, was what made them work there.

But a golden wedding would not be much of a celebration without some surprises. I can only say this golden wedding lived up to expectations.

The first surprise that probably few people expected was that the same people who comprised the bridal party fifty years ago – Best Man, page – boys, Matron of Honour and bridesmaids- were in attendance. And to show how much Doug and Brenda were loved and respected, these very special guests had come from all points of the compass. To complete this particular surprise, one of the page-boys, now CEO of a major building industry group in Canberra, came dressed as he was fifty years ago – in a kilt.

Then came the time for a few guests to say a few words. First, the best man of fifty years ago spoke briefly and emotionally of the friendship he had maintained with Brenda and Doug since their schooldays together in Ballarat. The retired Canberra lawyer who helped Doug and Brenda buy their first home in Higgins reiterated that same feeling of friendship.

Doug then spoke on behalf of himself and Brenda. He started by paying tribute to their children for their qualities, values plus espect and love they bestowed on Brenda and himself. He then went on to praise by name, his grandsons, granddaughters, nieces and nephews, in -laws, staff (and their children) some of whom had worked at Cockington Green (some were still working there, for twenty- six years. This was unsurprising, all being members of Doug and Brenda’s extended family.

With typical modesty Doug, went on to thank the rest of the more than hundred guests for the compliment they had paid Brenda and himself by attending the celebration. He went on to pay tribute also to absent friends with the words that their constancy of friendship had proved valuable to him and Brenda when they experienced those moments of despair, common to all families, whose support not only played a role in restoring their confidence but also helped make Cockington Green the success it is today.

But the piece de resistance of surprises was one that Doug had kept secret, even from Brenda. The surprise: MC Mark announced that Mark Vincent, the young fifteen years old tenor who in 2009 won the Australia’s Got Talent Quest, would entertain guests.

On behalf of Doug, this young man with the golden voice, serenaded Brenda with the ballad that speaks the real message of marriage: “You raise me up.” The guests’ acclamation guests showed they agreed.


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