From first dance came lifelong love


The stars were definitely glittering like diamonds 60 years ago when Colin and Alexia Craig walked down the aisle at St Andrew’s Church in Balclutha.

The Puketi couple will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary today with a small gathering of family and friends.

‘‘It was a lovely day on that Saturday afternoon in 1961,’’ Mrs Craig said.

‘‘But it was a busy afternoon for weddings in Balclutha, as there was a wedding at 1.30pm, another at 3.30pm, and ours at 5.30pm.’’

Back then, Mr Craig worked on the family farm at Puketi, while his future wife lived in Warepa and worked as a bank teller for the National Bank in Balclutha.

The couple met at a dance at the Warepa Hall.

‘‘We met by accident at the dance,’’ Mr Craig said.

‘‘I had heard there was one happening there on a Friday night back in early 1959, so after work I drove my VW Beetle out there but got lost and stopped at a railway station to ask directions.

‘‘The Beetle had poor visibility when backing and so I grounded it on some railway sleepers and had to heave it off them to get going again once they told me where the dance was,” he said.

On entering the hall, he looked around and picked the girl with the cutest ankles to dance with. ‘‘She was a black-haired beauty so, as the dance went on, I asked if I could meet her again and did she need a ride home.’’

There were dances on every weekend somewhere in Clutha, and Mrs Craig said she loved attending them.

‘‘My father drove me to them at first, but once I got my licence I took carloads of girlfriends with me.’’

The couple managed to drop their friends off before Mr Craig drove his date home.
‘‘Then he kept coming back and taking me to dances,’’ Mrs Craig said.

Their romance blossomed over the next couple of years as they continued pursuing their passion for dancing, attending many dances.

Once married, the couple settled on the Craig family farm in Greenfields Rd, where Mr Craig worked 331ha of sheep and beef.

In between raising two children — daughter Suzanne Schofield, now a vet in Balclutha and son Nigel Craig, who has taken over the running of the farm — the couple continued to contribute to their community.

Mr Craig was a former president of the Clutha Valley Federated Farmers and served on various rabbit boards, while Mrs Craig was heavily involved in Women’s Institute, the Red Cross, the museum committee and many other social organisations.

She also liked to travel, visiting the United Kingdom several times with family — trips Mr Craig did not share, as he was happy simply to ‘‘work outside on the farm’’.

‘‘We were very compatible, we loved helping and supporting each other and those around us in the community,’’ Mrs Craig said.

That compatibility had been key to their marriage over the past 60 years.

‘‘You have to be tolerant, it’s all about give and take, and working together.’’