CONGRATULATIONS are in order as Brian and Mary Ayliffe of Cobargo mark 50 years of marriage.
Family and friends gathered at the Cobargo Hotel on Saturday night to celebrate.
Among the 55 guests were all but one of the original bridal party.
The Ayliffes agree they have had a very solid, special marriage.
“I couldn’t imagine life any other way,” said Brian.
Brian and Mary married in 1964, when they were 23 and 24 respectively.
Brian was born in Mogo, and moved to Cobargo in 1947 when his family bought one of the two grocery shops in the town, naming it Ayliffe’s General Store.
Mary (nee Tyrrell) was born in Cobargo, and would help out at her family-owned Oakleigh Dairy Farm when she was younger.
The Ayliffes attended primary school together in Cobargo and recall taking part in a school play where they had to get married - in the performance Brian got to kiss Mary’s hand!
When she was 15, Mary began working for Brian’s parents at their general store where the two saw each other regularly, before beginning a courtship that lasted six years.
In 1973 the Ayliffes bought school buses, and both Mary and Brian drove one each for the next 30 years servicing Quaama and Cobargo schools.
After Brian’s father became ill and struggled continuing the operation of the general store, Mary returned to work there taking her two children, as there was no pre-school at which to leave them.
When Brian’s father died in 1979, the Ayliffes took over the family’s general store, closing the grocery section and turning it into an extremely successful motorbike business, which became the largest dealership in coastal NSW.
Both have been strongly involved in the community.
Brian was a drummer in many club bands for 30 years as well being involved in the Rural Fire Service (RFS) for 60 years, and today is an RFS group captain and on the senior management team in Bega.
“I couldn’t have done firefighting and the band without Mary’s support,” Brian said.
Mary was part of the Red Cross and has helped organise the beloved Cobargo Christmas Eve event when Santa visits the town park handing out lollies to children from the top of a fire truck, which this year has its 65th anniversary.
In 2008, Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“You have to keep going, to achieve something each day,” Mary said.
“I challenge myself.”
The couple thanked the Parkinson’s Support Group in Bega, which has provided “marvellous” support for them.
Brain and Mary have some advice for how to make a marriage last 50 years.
“I think you need to retain your own interests outside of marriage,” Brian said.
“Each party needs to have another life, but marriage is something you always come home to.
“[And] never let the sun go down on an argument.”
“Communication is important,” Mary added.
“And always tell them you love them.”
They both stress how important it is to support each other.
“That’s what marriage is all about,” Brian said.
Church has played an important part in their marriage, and today they think it provided the foundation for its longevity.
The Ayliffes have lived in their house for 50 years, which was built by Brian and his father, and these days are surrounded by their family as their two children, Mark and Rhonda, and four grandchildren live in the Cobargo area.
“The thing we value the most is that our family are so close to us,” Brian said.
Their bus service is still in the family under control of their son Mark and his partner Lisa, who also own the family’s Oakleigh farm.
The Ayliffes also share their 50th wedding anniversary with TimTams, as 1964 was the first year they were released.
“That’s one thing we have in common, we’ve both stood the test of time,” Brian said.