Barrie and Sandra’s celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary

Barrie and Sandra Cooke from Gascoigne House in Middleton recently celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary and took the opportunity to renew their marriage vows. Barrie and Sandra’s story is told by Lynda, the girlfriend of Barrie and Sandra’s son Julian.

Barrie and Sandra first met when they were 12 years old, and ended up as boyfriend and girlfriend at the age of sweet 16.

Barrie first caught Sandra’s eye when he used to sit in the bin holes with his mates. Every time Sandra walked past, Barrie would wolf whistle and shout.

Barrie and Sandra in the roof garden at Gascoigne House

As a group of lads and lasses, they started to hang around Middleton. The lads knocking about the streets and the girls went to Tivoli Picturehouse in Middleton. In fact the girls used to visit every picture house they could, watching the likes of Doris Day, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Vera Lynne – in fact anything to do with dancing.

Out of their group of friends Barrie actually dated Hilda first, but as fate would have it, she dumped Barrie and said Sandra could have him! From that moment on every morning on his way to school Barrie would stand over the road, in the same place, a few doors down, and whistle until Sandra came to her bedroom window and waved at him.

At the age of 16 they started going to the Nutty Slack in Middleton.

Barrie frequented the stage, singing to woo Sandra with the songs 16 Tonnes and Unchained Melody.

One time Barrie was due on stage to sing, but desperately needed the toilet. He went to the loo, and came back covered in snow, but you know what … the prize was Sandra, so Barrie got up to sing anyway.


From the age of 17, they started going to the Middleton Arms. They loved the sprung floor and it was there that they found their passion for Rock’n’Roll dancing.

At age 18 Barrie worked, serving at the Fforde Green and Shaftsbury pubs. On his way home, Barrie would stop at Sandra’s gate and serenade her until she turned on her bedroom light.

The Mecca dancehall became the lunchtime place for Sandra on her dinner break from WH Smiths, she would go with two of her friends, Hilda and Mavis.

Barrie would turn up in his filthy overalls, take them off and leave them on the floor. They would then bop their lunch hour away. Barrie would then put his filthy overalls back on and return to work.

Barrie was a bit of a professional and he could easy bop away with a girl on each arm. But he knew his true love was Sandra and their was nothing the pair loved more than dancing together.

Their commitment together was strong. On one particular occasion, Barrie was down in Romsey in Hampshire and Sandra was on holiday in Hartlepool. Barrie got the train all the way up to see Sandra, a total of 300 miles.

Barrie and Sandra on their wedding day

Barrie would have walked 500 miles and 500 hundred more just to be the man at her door.

This was soon to change though. Barrie and Sandra booked a holiday at Butlins together, but they fell out. To avoid missing out on on the holiday, Sandra went with the lassies and Barrie with the lads.

While there, Barrie ended up meeting a girl from Sheffield and Sandra a boy from Grimsby. They both ended up coming over to Leeds on the same weekend and the all ended up in the social club. Sandra’s Mum and Dad even invited them all back to their house for supper.

A few days later, realising how many feelings Sandra had for Barrie and overcome with jealousy, Sandra arranged to meet Barrie on the hilly field at the bottom of Middleton Park Avenue. Sandra said to Barrie “Will you marry me?” and the rest is history. Barrie was 19, Sandra was 18.

Barrie and Sandra were married on 18 May 1959, at St Cross Church, Middleton, and honeymooned in Weymouth and Romsey.

Barrie and Sandra then moved in with Sandra’s parents, May and Bill. Barrie went into the Army in the early 1960s, and when he came out they moved into their first house together on Mariners Avenue, Hunslet.

Sandra started her career in the tailoring business and worked at Buckleys, a company on Greek Street that made school blazers.

Holidays for Barrie and Sandra before the children where full of fun and frolics, they went to Weymouth, Romsey and Seaton Carew.

In December 1961 they were blessed with their first child, Jayne and nearly five years later in June 1966, Julian arrived completing their family.

Family holidays were to Butlins, Blackpool, Torquay, Spain and Malta.

Barrie getting a tattoo for Gay Pride

In the early days at Butlins the glamorous Sandra and Julian entered the Mother and Baby competition. They won it quite a few times. Julian would like to think it was down to him being a cute baby, but we all know the truth. Barrie says Sandra won the competition because she’s beautiful.

The family first visited Malta in 1978 and it became a special place where they spent many holidays over the years with friends creating happy memories. As you can imagine they made so many lifetime friends from that first visit in 1978 to the present day.

Jayne met her husband Vince, in 1979, they married in 1982 and have five children together: Jordan, Joshua, Joseph, Jonathan and Emily.

In addition to their growing family they have given Barrie and Sandra three wonderful great grandchildren, Emmie, Freddie and Sienna and we understand another is on the way. Update: baby son Frankie has now arrived and is brother to Freddie.

Julian finally left the family home in his early 20s and added to the clan, first with Georgia followed by Ellie. Adding to the the great grandchildren came Tallulah and Winnie from Georgie and George.

Barrie and Sandra renewed their own special vows to each other as follows:

“Sandra, after years of you having to put up with my terrible jokes and endless snoring. I promise not to change one bit. I might not be the perfect husband, but I am the one you chose and proposed to, and I’m glad you did. Here’s to another round of ‘I do’s, with a continued side of love and my humour, and lets look forward to many years and of course our Platinum Anniversary.”

“Barrie, you have forgotten to mention a few other things I have to put up with, pretending to be deaf and annoying la la la you constantly do. Why cant you just sing to me again, like you used to? Yes it was me who proposed and in glad that I did. Thank you for looking after me, I never thought you would end up being my Carer and since my stroke it really has been for better and for worse. You are always there for me and I’m glad that I did chose you.”

Then Barrie and Sandra agreed to continue abiding by the vows you took together on Monday 18 May 1959 with a resounding “we do.”


What a wonderful love story and they got to have their Wedding Anniversary at Gascoigne House, which they recently moved into.

They can be seen enjoying the various activities  at Gascoigne House Extra Care, and enjoying a meal in the Bistro.


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