Clinton couple together since school days

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Lifelong love . . . Ailsa And Dave Mackie first met at primary school.
PHOTO: NICK BROOK

NICK.BROOK@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

A Clutha couple notched a notable milestone when they celebrated sixty years of partnership at their heritage home in Clinton onMarch 10.

Ailsa Copland was the sixth of seven children in a family which has farmed at Clinton for 102 years.

David Mackie’s dad worked at the Benhar Pottery before moving the family to Clinton in 1945 for a job with the Clutha council.

Dave met Ailsa on her first day at school and she caught up with him by standard 3.

Both caught the bus to South Otago High and as teenagers joined the 1950s sports and social mixers. It was at a local ball that Dave asked the girl he had grown up with for a dance.

‘‘That was it. We clicked right there. Although she did give me the slip a few times,’’ Mr Mackie said.

‘‘I suppose I was testing him,’’ Ailsa laughed.

‘‘He used to come up to see me on his motorbike.’’

Ailsa was training as a nurse at the Balclutha hospital and Dave was a shearer in Clinton.

In August 1960, Dave invested a cool £1000 in a brand new Morris Oxford truck, and then popped the question a month later.

They were engaged for 18 months while Ailsa finished her qualification and Dave kept earning, and were married on March 10, 1962 aged 22 and 21.

They described a drizzly wedding with photos before the ceremony at the Clinton Presbyterian Church.

‘‘It was good luck for us. It was a big wedding — the flowers were picked from our home garden, local catering and 150, 200 people.’’

The happy couple’s new truck played a pivotal role as they set off for a 3000›mile honeymoon tour of the North Island.

‘‘I was pretty nervous when they lifted our truck on to the Lyttelton ferry with straps and a crane,’’ Dave said,

‘‘It was a three›week adventure. We were back in time for rugby and won the banner for the fifth time that year. In those days, you didn’t get married during the rugby season,’’ he laughed.

The couple soon moved into their present home, the house where Ailsa was born.

Dave leased a farm block from his father›in›law and Ailsa worked the next 25 years as a farm wife and mother of five before taking on a 12›year nursing career.

Community was important to the Mackies, both volunteering for 25 years with St John’s. Dave is Clinton Lions Club’s last founding member, a former district councillor and 53›year Presbyterian Elder who was always prepared to represent rural interests with fundraising, activism and advocacy.

As an artist he is well known, most visibly as the sculptor of Clinton’s Clydesdale horse teams, and he was awarded the QSM for community services in 2014.

Having known her husband from childhood, Ailsa said she always understood he was an artist and outdoorsman who often went for long hunting trips and still retired to his painting room.

‘‘You spend your life living with the person you love, that means letting each other have our own space, too,’’ she said.

The couple have six grandchildren and two great› grandsons.