A Rutherglen couple who have been at the heart of the local community for decades celebrated their golden wedding last week – with a little help from their neighbours.
Phil and Jessie McFarlane’s plans to mark their big day were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, so other residents on Mill Street surprised them with a number of gifts, including flowers, chocolates, candles and an anniversary cake.
Keeping to social distancing rules, neighbours headed onto the street last Thursday night to wish Phil and Jessie, who have lived in Rutherglen all their lives, a happy anniversary.
And the surprises continued the following day, as a delicious afternoon tea from Toffee Apples tearoom was delivered to them.
A delighted Jessie, 71, said: “I was so surprised I hadn’t even sorted my hair properly!
“It was not something we had been expecting at all. We have really lovely neighbours here.”
The couple met when they were teenagers, and Jessie (nee Samson) shopped in Bain’s, the shop owned by Phil’s parents.
“My mum had a fall and Phil came round to see how she was doing – I think that was an excuse,” recalled Jessie with a laugh.
“Phil was in a band back then so I’d go and see him play, and we started dating.”
The couple were married on June 26, 1970 in the old Munro Church, which eventually became part of the West and Wardlawhill church.
After Phil’s parents passed away they took over the running of the shop, before eventually retiring in 2008, while Jessie also worked with Barclays for a spell.
However, after several months, Jessie realised she missed being at work, so she took a job at Asda in Toryglen, where she continues to this day.
Meanwhile Phil, 79, has maintained his hobby of golf, playing at Blairbeth for more than 40 years before moving to an East Kilbride club,while he continues to sing, raising money for charity in the process.
The couple have two sons, Scott and Derek, and one grandchild, also called Scott.
Originally, Jessie and Phil had been looking at going away somewhere on holiday to mark their special anniversary, but the coronavirus put a stop to those plans.
Jessie believes the secret to their happy marriage is simply having respect for each other and their opinions.
She added: “He’s very easy going, which helps, but the most important thing is that you respect each other.”
Neighbour Lynn Cowan has lived next to the McFarlanes for 34 years and was determined to help them celebrate.
She enthused: “They are fantastic neighbours and have hearts of gold.
“We wanted to do something for them, so me and the rest of the neighbours had a chat about what to get for them.
“They are such a lovely couple and deserved to have a nice day to mark their anniversary”