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A lasting love

DEVOTED COUPLE: Jimmy and Constance are celebrating 50 years together (BELOW) Jimmy and Consie on their wedding day in 1961

WHEN JIMMY Lawrence was just a teenager, he set eyes on a beautiful young lady called Constance Donald and called her his ‘Jamaican Queen.’

More than 50 years later, he is a great grandfather, but that same girl is still his queen.

Last week, Birmingham-based couple Jimmy and Constance Lawrence celebrated 50 years of marriage with a weekend of activities including a blessing at their local church, the Betel Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Handsworth.

The couple are also planning a big celebration for family and friends at the Betel Convention Centre in September.

LOVE STORY

Their Golden anniversary is a long way from where their love story first began in their hometown of Kingston, Jamaica more than half a century ago.

“I can remember exactly what I was wearing and the date I met Jimmy – it was an August bank holiday Monday,” laughed Constance, affectionately called Consie.

“I was standing outside one of the dance halls wearing a yellow skirt and a sleeveless blouse. I saw this tall handsome boy coming towards me, smiling and we just got talking.”

Jimmy, who was learning photography at the time, remembers: “There was something about Consie. She was standing on her own looking very beautiful. All I knew was that I wanted to talk to her.”

As they began courting Jimmy, whose real name is Allan, decided to come to England in June 1960. Consie followed him and they were married at Birmingham’s Register Office on July 1, 1961.

Like many other Caribbean couples, they had to overcome prejudice while settling in Birmingham in the 1960s.
Jimmy, 69, remembered how some workers protested when he passed exams for a skilled, well paid job as a stamper at one Birmingham factory.

PROTEST

“When I filled in my forms and put down that my nationality was Jamaican, many of the other workers didn’t like it and started to protest,” explained Jimmy. “An Irishman took me under his wing and explained to the others that I could do the job.”

He later worked at another company, Stamping Alliance, for 29 years. Consie, a dressmaker and hairdresser in Jamaica, also worked at Valour heating in Birmingham and did nights at Good Hope Hospital while raising their four daughters and three sons, one of whom sadly died of cancer at age 24.

The couple have 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren who all visit their Edgbaston home regularly.
A still very active Consie, 72, said she treasures her years with Jimmy.

“Jimmy has been a wonderful provider. We may not have been very rich but I never had to worry about a bill coming in. He took care of everything. I give God thanks for where He has brought us from.”

Jimmy, who is also a talented artist, said: “We learned that to make a marriage work you have to believe in forgiveness. I feel very lucky to have met Consie. She is a wonderful wife and mother.”

Daughter Marcia, 48, says: “Mum and dad have been a fantastic example to us. We’ve seen them go through good times and bad but they showed us how to stay strong together.”

Jimmy added: “There is no compromise in marriage, you cannot change each other. You have to learn about each other and respect each other’s ways. We’ve had our ups and downs but she’s still my Jamaican Queen.”

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