By Kyra Gillespie
Celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary Thursday 16 August, Bunyip couple Ken and Sally Barnard look back on the highs and lows of their married life.
The Diamond couple met when Sally’s family moved to Elsternwick when she was 13 years old.
There, Sally befriended local boy Ken, where they grew up together.
By 1958 the couple were wed; Ken was 19 and Sally was 17.
A year later they had their first child Anne in 1959, with children Wendy, Mark and Robyn following shortly after.
Doveton became home to the Barnard family, before shifting to Endeavour Hills before finally settling in Bunyip in 1988.
The couple recalled many happy memories in Doveton, where superstar footballer Mark joined the Doveton Football Club, with devoted parents Ken and Sally on the committee and father Ken taking up the role of club president and coach for a number of years.
The family spoke fondly of their time in Doveton, of playing with other children in the streets and summer afternoons in the family swimming pool.
“We were the first ones on our street to get colour TV,” daughter Anne recalled warmly.
“I remember during cricket season everyone would gather at our house to watch the season in colour.”
The family also had an engineering business, originally owned by Ken’s stepfather, where they manufactured products such as bolts, screws and stainless steel materials out of the Dandenong-based site.
Ken ran the factory while Sally worked there part-time.
While they loved the community at Doveton, Ken said times spent at his uncle’s farm in Bunyip made him fall in love with the area.
“I took one look at the farm and knew I wanted it,” Ken said.
“I come from a family of farmers; my love for open spaces is in my genes.
“I love the outdoors and country life.”
It didn’t take long before the children followed their parents to the quiet country town; there are currently four households living in Bunyip.
“We love Bunyip and were so wrapped when our kids decided to move closer to us,” Sally said.
“We don’t see each other all the time, but having them five minutes away makes a real difference in your life,” Ken added.
In Bunyip, the family once again became involved in the local sporting clubs, with the girls taking part in the netball and Mark in the football scene.
Mark was set to take over the family business before doctors discovered a tumour in his brain.
Despite a seemingly successful operation to remove the tumour, the cancer came back and claimed the young sportsman’s life at just 38 years old.
“He was so healthy and active,” Sally said through tears.
“His death shook our family and the community. There were over 1000 people at his funeral; it was so big that we had to host it in a hall instead of a church.”
“It was the saddest moment of our lives,” Ken added.
The couple said that while the 60-year stint hasn’t always been easy, sticking by each other’s side has made all the difference.
“We were made to be together,” Sally said.
“I couldn’t imagine Ken without me and me without him.
“Sure we have our arguments, but I love him and I always make sure I tell him that.
“We’ve always done things together and that has made a real difference I think.”
When asked to offer advice to younger couples, they highlighted patience as a key virtue of any relationship.
“There are so many young couples who don’t know what it’s like to go without,” Ken said.
“We’ve never been an extravagant family, and have had to make do with what we’ve got.
“I think a lot of people now expect everything to come at once; the house, the holidays etc. I would say be patient, all of that will come in time.”
Ken and Sally now enjoy 13 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
Two great grandchildren tragically passed on; however the memories of their short lives are openly commemorated by the family.
Ken and Sally plan to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at the newly renovated Pakenham Hotel with family and friends on Sunday 19 August.