Diamond day for couple who met in a coffee bar

Heather & John Goddard

Well-known Hanham couple John and Heather Goddard have celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary.

The couple met at a coffee bar in Exeter called El Zamba. John, who is originally from Wellington in Somerset, was 21 and serving in the RAF at Chivenor in Devon. Heather Simons was 18 and from Exeter. Both say there was an instant attraction.

They were married on 27th July 1963 with just a few friends and relatives in attendance at the Lady Chapel at St Mark’s Church in Exeter. By now Heather was 21 and had just completed her teacher’s training at college in Brighton. John was 23 and had served an apprenticeship in radio and television.

Having earned promotion to become a service manager in Bath, the couple soon relocated, first renting in Bath and then buying their own home in Mount Hill Road in Hanham. Son Stephen soon came along.

Heather first taught home economics at Brislington Comprehensive School and after a short time moved to St Thomas More RC Secondary School in Horfield in Bristol. She retired from there in 2000 as head of design and technology.

Asked about the secret to their long and happy marriage, Heather and John cite their shared interests including politics and cooking.

Heather first tried to enter local politics in 1976 when she missed out on winning the Hanham seat on Kingswood District Council for the Conservatives by just five votes. Undeterred she tried again in 1979 and was successful. She went on to become the authority’s first woman chair.

The council was later renamed Kingswood Borough Council and then during the shake-up of local councils in 1996 South Gloucestershire Council was formed. Heather served on South Gloucestershire as Cabinet member for Communities and Development of Strategic Partnerships & External Affairs She has also served on both Hanham Parish Council and Hanham Abbots Parish Council and remains an Independent member on the latter.

John’s work as a national manager took him away from home a lot but he joined Hanham Abbots Parish Council in 1979 and South Gloucestershire Council in 2003. He too had a Cabinet role, holding the Corporate Resources portfolio. Both he and Heather stood down from the authority in 2019. John has also been a member of Hanham Parish Council and remains an Independent member of Hanham Abbots Parish Council of which he is currently chair.

Heather and John were both made Honorary Aldermen four years ago for their eminent service and along with others who hold that title were at the ceremony earlier this month in Kingswood Civic Centre to see four new aldermen being confirmed.

Cross-party collaboration has always been important for both Heather and John and the couple have friends from across the political spectrum.

Outside of politics, John was a founder governor of Hanham High School (now known as Hanham Woods Academy) and chaired the governing body for many years. Heather was chair of governors of Hanham Abbots Junior School for 13 years.

John was also chairman of Kingswood District Scouts for a time and. Heather, who had been West of England girls’ diving champion and Devon County Ladies springboard champion, enjoyed being a diving coach at Soundwell.

John is a keen cook too; a lover of Thai food in particular, he went on a cookery course in Thailand and taught Thai cookery at Soundwell College, as well as Indian cooking and cookery classes for men. For a time he and Heather ran a catering business together supplying Thai food for private events.

The couple, who also have a grandson David, and great-grandson, Alfie, celebrated their 60 years of marriage at the weekend with family and friends at a party at the Aerospace Bristol museum.