Celebrating 60 years of marriage

Marriage isn’t meant to be a fairy tale - it’s a commitment.  

That’s according to Sheila and Ken Hickey of Salamander Bay who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on the 6 September.

At the event, there were many in far younger marriages who looked on in awe and marvelled at the Hickey’s luck in being blessed with a fairy tale marriage.

Yet Sheila and Ken would be the first to tell you that, while they believed in together forever on that day way back in 1958, that marriage isn’t meant to be a fairy tale, it’s a commitment.

In their 60 years of marriage, Sheila and Ken have raised four daughters, all of whom are in successful long term relationships. They were also on hand to help out with the raising of nine grandchildren and these days are enjoying three great grandchildren - and like all great grandparents are excited at the prospect of more!

Sheila often jokes that they have only stayed married to prove to all those who predicted it wouldn’t last wrong! But to believe that you would have to be deaf to the affection in her voice when she speaks of Kenny and blind to the way her eyes immediately hone in on her husband when he enters a room.

Always quick with a joke and a cheeky grin, it’s not hard to see what first attracted a young convent-schooled girl from Largs to the handsome, Telarah larrikin. 

Nor is there any doubt that she remains, the great love and light of Ken’s life. There is a quiet, subtle strength in Sheila, that belies her understated elegance and quiet nature and Ken considers himself very lucky to have made the grade with her and that she ignored the naysayers who weren’t so taken with him!

Family was always crucial to the Maitland-born-and-bred couple whose early years of their marriage were spent in South St Rutherford before they moved into their own home in Compton Street. 

It was from here that Ken and Sheila proudly took their daughters to Mass every Sunday, but their beliefs have always been reflected as much in their hearts as in their knees. Their kindness to others has always been highlighted by their actions not merely their words.

Indeed, it was faith and family, that combined to keep them strong when thirty-five years ago a freak work accident left Kenny unable to work again.

When Sheila and Ken moved to Salamander Bay in 1990, it seemed a fitting “reward” to a couple who’d endured more than either of them deserved. Yet while there’s no denying the devoted couple’s love for The Bay, the distractions of bowls, fishing and travelling together they continue to make themselves available for volunteer work and lending a hand to others. Whether it’s Kenny helping out a neighbour by watering their garden or putting their garbage bin out while they are away or Sheila’s work with the Catholic Women’s League, their generous spirit continues to shine through.

Perhaps, the real secret to their “fairy-tale” marriage isn’t only how much they love and care for each other, but how willing they are to also care about others; be it family, friends or strangers.  

Their commitment to putting their faith into action, not just prayer is an example to all married couples.

So congratulations Sheila and Ken not just on 60 years of marriage, but for touching the hearts and lives of so many others as you shared those wonderful, happy, sad, testing and triumphant 60 years.

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Emily Unicomb Image
Emily Unicomb

Emily Unicomb is the granddaughter of Sheila and Ken Hickey

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