by Claire Allison

If everything had gone according to plan, Timaru couple John and Patricia Braggins would never have met.

The tugboat Mr Braggins was delivering to Canada would not have lost power at Annet Head, in the Isles of Scilly, southwest of England.

He and the other men on board would not have spent 30 hours at sea without power or radio communications until eventually being rescued and towed to St Mary’s, the largest island.

And he would not have turned up at the appropriately-named The Mermaid, which happened to be Pat’s local pub, on a night she had gone for a drink after her day’s work at the Atlantic Hotel as a housemaid and receptionist.

“I spotted Pat, and she was the best-looking woman in the room . and she still is.

“It was incredible luck that this is where we have ended up.”

Today, on the other side of the world, the couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Young love . Patricia and John Braggins on their wedding day in Canada. PHOTO: SUPPLIED



Mr Braggins stayed just three weeks in St Mary’s, with Mrs Braggins’ parents, before heading off again in his work as a marine engineer, delivering tugs around the world.

He and Mrs Braggins wrote to each other, and when Mr Braggins was settled back in Canada, he asked an important question, one Mrs Braggins was happy to answer.

“You asked me if I’d go out to Canada and marry you, so I did.”

She was 21, he was 25.

“I’d only just landed I think and John was on about New Zealand .. ‘just to have a look’ . so we had a look and thought, we’re not going back, we’re staying.”

The couple settled in Auckland, but the contrast to the high-altitude climate of Jasper, Canada, didn’t agree with them, so they headed south, first to Picton, and then to Roxburgh and Aviemore, where Mr Braggins found work on the hydro power stations.

With daughters at high school age, the family moved to Timaru, and Mr Braggins worked with the South Canterbury Electric Power Board. He took early retirement and the couple spent 10 years in Geraldine before returning to settle permanently in Timaru.

Fateful voyage . The tug Helen M McAllister’s loss of power resulted in John Braggins ending up in St Mary’s, where he met his wife-to-be. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The congratulatory cards are flowing in – from the Queen, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon.

Is there a secret to staying successfully married for 60 years?

Mrs Braggins: Perseverance.

Mr Braggins: Doing as I’m told!

Mrs Braggins: I think John is deaf on my side quite frequently.Buy KicksNike News