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Tolhursts celebrate golden wedding anniversary in unexpected way

Golden years: Terry and Rita Tolhurst are celebrating 50 years of marriage, and inset, on their wedding day in 1970.

TERRY and Rita Tolhurst toasted 50 years of marriage in a way they “had never anticipated” with 30 family members on the screen via Zoom on August 17.

The couple said the day was “absolutely brilliant” even if they couldn’t meet up in person.

Their anniversary day started with a specially live-streamed Monday Mass celebrated by Bracken Ridge parish priest Fr Gerry Hefferan.

Mr Tolhurst said it was a beautiful Mass and “very meaningful for us”.

The Mass was followed by the Zoom get-together later that night with extended family.

Last year, Mrs Tolhurst had talked about how, when it was their turn, they would get to celebrate Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral with other couples on their golden wedding anniversary.

“Unfortunately that’s not to be,” she said.

The couple were in a higher risk category for catching COVID-19, which meant they had to avoid crowds when possible.

They weren’t going to miss out entirely – Mr and Mrs Tolhurst would be watching the livestream from home for the St Stephen’s Mass when it would be celebrated on September 26.

Their journey had been full of unexpected moments – like the first time Mr Tolhurst played tennis.

In 1965, Mr Tolhurst decided to put his name down for the Queensland Catholic Lawn Tennis Association.

“It just so happened that Rita’s brother, who was the captain of the team, had put in a request that they needed an extra team member,” Mr Tolhurst said.

“So I became a team member… and I met Rita the first time I played tennis.”

They had met in February and had their first date in May when Rita partnered Terry to the Young Christian Workers Ball at Cloudland.

They dated for a couple of years until Mr Tolhurst went to Canberra for a job promotion and they started a romance by correspondence.

Rita visited Terry in 1968 with her aunt and cousin and he popped the question while she was there.

On August 17, 1970, the couple were wed.

Wedding day: Rita and Terry Tolhurst.

Two years later they had their first daughter and in 1976 their second daughter.

They had agreed by age 40 they would move to somewhere warmer because Canberra was too cold.

So they returned in 1987 in time for the World Expo in 1988.

Both their daughters got married and they now have “six beautiful grandchildren”.

The couple’s advice for married people – be patient and listen to the other point of view.

Mrs Tolhurst said faith had “helped us a lot with staying together and understanding each other”.

“(Faith) has been a big part of our lives,” she said.

Mr Tolhurst said it always had been too.

The couple attributed it to some “great parishes” too.

Since their first parish together in Canberra, they had always tried to get involved with the local church work.

“We’ve probably got the best parish priest in Brisbane, that’s my opinion anyway – Fr Gerry Hefferan,” Mr Tolhurst said.

Mrs Tolhurst said they had been “very lucky” to have had Fr Bernie Costigan for 21 years too.

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