Holbeach couple both centenarians

Centenarians both: Lil and Les Cross. Photo: SG071114-211TW
Centenarians both: Lil and Les Cross. Photo: SG071114-211TW
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There can’t be many couples who reach the grand age of 100 together, but that’s exactly what Les and Lil Cross have done.

The couple, who lived in Surfleet for 55 years but are now in a home at Holbeach, are record-breakers in other ways too.

They have been married 79 years, and their grandaughter Julia Beasley believes that makes them the second-longest married couple in Britain.

Lil has only just celebrated her 100th with a small family party at Mayfield Residential Home on Friday.

A month or so earlier it was Les’s turn to achieve that magnificent landmark, and when he celebrated it was with family as well as old friends and fellow centenarian Norman Hotchkin and his wife Marjorie (98).

Norman and Marjorie have a claim in the longest-marriage stakes too, as they have enjoyed wedded bliss for 69 years.

Julia says Lil was one of eight children, three boys and five girls, born in Whaplode to parents Samuel and Beatrice Julia English.

Julia says: “Beatrice lived to 91, so longevity was already in the genes.”

As she grew up, Lil helped look after her brothers and sisters until she went to work as a flower cropper for J T White in Moulton, cutting flowers such as daffodils.

Love struck for the pair during a courtship that began when Les, who was born in Saracen’s Head, walked Lil home after a night out with friends. Les was cycling home from Holbeach and met up with a group of friends, who in turn met up with a group of girls, one of whom was Lil. Gradually their friends reached home, leaving just the two of them.

They married at Long Sutton Register Office, living first with Lil’s parents in Whaplode before moving to their own home where they worked on the land together.

Finally, they moved to a smallholding at Surfleet where they grew flowers such as pinks, daffodils and tulips.

Julia says: “Grandad commented on how much quicker Lil was than him at cropping some of the flowers.”

Family followed, with four daughters, Pam, Dorothy, Beryl and Lesley.

Lil’s birthday was celebrated with their daughter Beryl Turner, grandaughters Julia and Juliett Turner, son-in-law Ted Beasley as well as friends with a glass of Baileys and a birthday cake made by family friend Dulcie King.

Julia said it was Dulcie who read the birthday greetings from the Queen and from Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.