HILLARYS couple James (84) and Joan Mullins (83) are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today.
Born in Ireland in September 1931 and November 1932 respectively, the pair met at Galway City Railway Station in 1952 where Joan’s (nee Ballybrophy) father was the stationmaster and Mr Mullins was a clerk.
“They were both looking at magazines at a bookstall on the platform when they met,” daughter Carmel Dunsire said.
“Joan went on to work in Dublin for the Bank of Ireland and James migrated to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1954 and worked as a locomotive fireman and driver.
“Joan followed in 1955 to a post with Barclays Bank Bulawayo. They were married in St Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo on September 1, 1956.”
The couple and their three children – Leo, Shane and Carmel – migrated to the US five years later, but found jobs were hard to come by and moved back to live with Mr Mullins’ parents in Ireland before returning to Southern Rhodesia in 1962.
Their fourth child, Caroline, was born in Bulawayo that April and Mr Mullins enlisted with the British South African Police Reserve.
“He was required to serve away on bush patrols and convoy duties, as the armed incursions to Rhodesia worsened,” Mrs Dunsire said.
“Joan shouldered the burden and worry of caring for the four children at lonely railway outstations with courage and love for her small family.
“After 23 years of seeing friends and innocent people killed and injured in the savage bush war, Joan and James transferred to Botswana and then migrated to Perth in 1983.”
Two of the couple’s four children, Leo and Carmel, followed them to Perth, while the others remain in Africa, and they have eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“James received a serious back injury in 1977 whilst driving a truck, on patrol duties, which detonated a landmine,” Mrs Dunsire said.
“He made a full recovery only to suffer another severe back fracture whilst on a deep sea fishing charter boat off Hillarys.
“Joan gained full time employment in two large accounting firms until retirement.
“James, with Joan’s help, ran a number of delis in Northam, Claremont and Mount Hawthorn until retirement.”
The couple now live in an over-55s village in Hillarys and say they have appreciated the “safe and stable environment” Australia has provided for the past 33 years.
They will hold a celebratory lunch at the village this Saturday, and Mr Mullins will turn 85 on Sunday.