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Lud and Val Sparks celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Paeroa couple going strong after 60 years

Val and Lud Sparks’ love language may differ, but it’s clear to see how the Paeroa pair have reached their diamond wedding anniversary, celebrating 60 years together last month.
At their Hauraki villa, the couple were humble about their romantic milestone, but said their relationship was strengthened by their faith, and one another’s ability to “give and take”.
“We’ve found that we probably express [ourselves] to each other in different ways,” Lud said, while Val quipped: “You can say that again”.
“The best way I can explain it is, for Val’s birthday or Christmas, I’d always have a card at least,” Lud said. “No matter what the gift, I’d put a lot of thought into the card. But for Val, that’s the last thing she would ever consider. It’s in other ways that she would express it.”
Val was 16-years-old when she met Lud, 21. Both were King Country born and bred.
“Living in the country, we didn’t go out anywhere at all, but my mother let us go to a Bible Class Camp and [Lud] was there. We didn’t date, but I went to Hamilton to do my nursing training and he would come up and see me,” Val said.
Lud, who had completed a signwriting apprenticeship at his father’s business, went back to school for two years – something that was “unheard of in those days”.
He then “bumped around” in Te Kuiti for a while before heading off overseas – spending three months as a volunteer at a Christian hospital in Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province.
Throughout his travels, Val and Lud exchanged letters and, six weeks after he returned, they were married.
They wed on February 22, 1964 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Te Kuiti, and had the reception “in a hall that’s no longer there”.
Speaking to The Profile in March, the pair were casual about their diamond milestone, but through their conversations it was clear the bond remained.
“My [favourite thing about Lud] would be that every day almost without fail, he says the words: ‘I love you’,” Val said.
“Without spelling it out,” Lud added, “Val provided something in my life that wasn’t there. That’s why I appreciate, even now, that she is there. And if she’s away longer than I’m expecting her to be, I do get anxious.”
The couple said their faith had been significant to them the whole way through their six decades together. They moved to Paeroa in 1986 and now both attend the Paeroa Co-Operating Parish, where they had a celebration for their anniversary with friends and family.
But before they were wed, and before Val went on to become a geriatric nurse and Lud, a probation officer, there were times the couple tried to go their separate ways.
“But it was never a goodbye,” Lud said, “and I cannot explain it any other way than that God wanted us to be together.”