Blue-sapphire event . . . Greta and Geoff Buckingham celebrated 65 years of marriage on January 15. Behind them is Mrs Buckingham’s wedding dress that she made herself, and she is holding the horse shoes she was given on the day. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Like Cinderella, Greta Buckingham’s (nee Smith) relationship with her prince charming started to blossom at a ball.

Mrs Buckingham (85) and her prince Geoff Buckingham (89) celebrated 65 years of marriage on January 15 with family and friends.

She was friends with her husband-to-be’s sister Ellen.

The young people in the district used to go to dances and sometimes she would dance with Mr Buckingham.

When she was about 17 years old, she needed a partner for her debutante ball.

‘‘I plucked up courage and asked him would he escort me, which he did.

‘‘It kind of got a bit more serious after I had him as my deb partner.’’

The couple had lived in the Tokanui area all their lives.

Mr Buckingham grew up on his parents’ farm at Quarry Hills, near Tokanui.

Mrs Buckingham first lived in Tahakopa, near Niagara where her father ran a grocery store, and then moved to a farm at Otara.

When she was 15 she left Southland Girls’ High School to help her mother at home.

She was the eldest of 11.

‘‘I felt Mum needed another pair of hands at home.’’

She completed a dressmaking course and learned how to draft patterns.

She put her skills to use when she made her own wedding dress.

When they were married they moved to a small cottage on the Buckingham family farm.

Mrs Buckingham was 20 and Mr Buckingham 24.

Their relationship started with friendship and that remained the key, Mrs Buckingham said.

‘‘We get on pretty well, really.’’

Marriage brought two people together who learnt to work together and bring out the best in each other.

‘‘You encourage each other’s strengths whereby you find you can do other things . . . beyond your family, beyond your home, into your community.’’

Her husband had a pair of socks with writing on them that summed him up.

The writing said, ‘‘he’s a spiritual man — peaceful, kind and generous’’.

Their Christian faith was also important to them.

The couple had six children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.