A sweet gesture had a long-lasting after-effect: a long and happy marriage.

William and Alva Haig met at their church, Crosshill Victoria, in Glasgow’s South Side, when he offered her a sweetie. Shortly after, Alva was in the Pantheon Club’s production of Brigadoon and invited William to the after-show party… and the rest was history.


The couple were married in 1964 and have just celebrated no fewer than 60 years of marriage.


William worked as a mechanical engineer with Roots, in Renfrew, and then Chrysler, but when his job took him to Rolls Royce, the pair moved to East Kilbride. They are still in the same house in St Leonards Road 57 years later, but the outlook is a little different – when they moved in, the road was a dirt track and across from their house was a golf course.


Their only child, Cherrill, was born in 1965, but a host of other children passed through their lives as Alva and William served as foster parents for nine years in the 1970s. It was early days for fostering in the area, and William also became the chairman of East Kilbride Foster Parent group to help those involved to share information and experiences.


Alva worked in the office of what is now Johnston and Johnston, and the finance office of Lewis’s department store, before started working as a secretary for the WRVS. In 1983, she started at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children as a paediatric nurse, where she remained until she retired in 2003.


William had graduated in Pure Maths and Computing through the Open University and began lecturing in Computer Aided Design at Stow College, Glasgow. He retired at 65 but was asked back in a part-time capacity and continued lecturing until he was 72.


Both loved to be part of the community. Alva had trained as a soprano singer at what is now the Conservatoire and sang with choirs, various groups, in church and for weddings, while the family were all in East Kilbride Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Alva in East Kilbride Light Opera Club.


Meanwhile, William taught night classes and played badminton, having been a Scottish Badminton Union coach and running clubs for teenagers and children, and adults.


The couple were both elders in Claremont Parish Church and had been among the first members when Rev Ray Sawers started the church, meeting in houses in St Leonards. The church still plays a big part in their lives and, until recently, Alva was the President, and then Vice-President, of the Ladies Circle.


William became involved with the Strathaven Miniature Railway Club when he first retired at 65. He volunteered at the workshop on Mondays and drove the train at weekends, raising money for charity, and is now an honorary member.


They love socialising with friends and, as well as celebrating their diamond occasion with them, their family and, of course, their beloved rescue cat, Muffin, they also had a couple of special visitors: South Lanarkshire Provost Margaret Cooper presented the couple with flowers, a special Provost’s bottle of whisky and a certificate on behalf of the council and Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Lanarkshire David Russell DL handed over a certificate to mark their achievement, with a congratulatory card also having been received from King Charles.

Posted by Gavin Whitefield