As millions of punters try to pick the winner of tomorrow’s Grand National, the Aintree showpiece will bring back fond memories for a Diamond couple from Tittleshall.
That’s because John and Nancy Murton’s wedding in 1956 coincided not only with the race, but one of the most famous incidents in its history.
Now, ahead of this year’s race, and having just celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary, the couple have been reflecting on the part it played in their big day.
Having tied the knot at the parish church, Nancy, now 83, arrived for the reception at the village hall only to find many of her guests weren’t there.
She said: “I turned up to celebrate with family and friends but the men had disappeared off to my father-in-law’s house to watch the Grand National.
“They were all huddled around what was, at the time, the only television in the village.”
Her new husband had backed Devon Loch, one of two horses in the race that were owned by the Queen Mother and which was ridden by Dick Francis, who later became famous as a crime novellist. And any hopes of a profitable start to their married life were dashed just 40 yards from the finishing line when the horse, which was in the lead, fell.
However, while the horse couldn’t quite stay the course in Liverpool all those years ago, John and Nancy’s marriage certainly has and they received a card from the Queen on the day of their anniversary.
For more than 60 years, John’s family were the newsagents in Tittleshall and John, who is now 86, himself cycled the surrounding area delivering newspapers.
Having met Nancy, who was one of 14 children, at a dance class at Tittleshall Rectory, they married at the village’s church on March 24, 1956, after a four-year courtship.
They now have three daughters, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and marked the big day with them.
And, just in case you’re wondering what John and Nancy are backing in the race tomorrow, their money will be on Shutthefrontdoor, who finished fifth last year in the race at Liverpool.
However, be warned – the selection was not made after studying the form of the 40 runners, but simply because Nancy hates sitting with the doors open!