Local couple treated to care home lunch with love


Married for 59 years, Joan and Tony Watling say it's the laughter that's kept them together for so long.

The pair were one of fifteen couples treated to a Valentine’s lunch at Bupa Fergusson Care Home in Upper Hutt with a theme of ‘Celebrating Love’. Joan and Tony found they were instantly attracted to each other all those years ago, even though their first date to the cinema was accompanied by Tony’s parents.

While Joan is a local lass having grown up in Wanganui, Tony spent time in the British Army before becoming a tool maker and emigrating to New Zealand in 1950. Not known for regular romantic surprises, Tony says that sometimes he’s even surprised himself. He relies on his daughter in law Debbie to surprise and delight his wife on his behalf. 

“Debbie often says to Joan ‘look what your husband bought you’. I like to take the credit,” Tony says with a smile.

With a setting of red tablecloths and rose placemats, the special Valentine’s lunch menu included shrimp cocktail and bubbles for the couples. Joan says they hadn’t enjoyed a valentine’s lunch together for quite a while and so found the treat ‘rather special’.

Care Home Manager Lynne Peirse said she had the lunch idea for those who may find it difficult to go out to a restaurant due to mobility.

“Some of our couples live in the care home together, while others have supportive spouses who visit regularly. The lunch of gourmet entrée, mains, and dessert acknowledged their long lasting marriages and commitment to each other which is truly lovely,” Lynne says.

After spending 50 years in Wainuiomata raising a family, Joan and Tony have made the big decision to move into the Upper Hutt care home full time after they’d been regularly attending day care there. While they both agree having the odd argument once in a while adds ‘zest to a marriage', the now 95 year old’s explain it’s the laughter that binds them as they grow old gracefully together.

“As the years go by things actually get much better in marriage, probably helped by the failing eye-sight, and poor hearing,” Joan laughs.