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Barbara and Ed’s lifelong love

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Celebrating happiness: Barbara and Ed Lambert were childhood sweethearts and have been married for 68 years

Barbara Lambert had always loved children and prayed for a big family. Still, she wasn’t quite expecting to have 13.

“When I prayed I didn’t mean that many,” the 90-year-old laughed.

As it turned out, however, having a large family was a blessing for her and husband Ed Lambert.

“God blessed us with 13 good children. They never gave us any trouble,” she said.

“I never got called to the school because they’d misbehaved. When it was dinner time, I never had to go around the neighbourhood looking for them. There were so many of them they just stayed in their yard and played with each other.

“We raised them up right.”

The Warwick couple celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on Friday.

“The secret to a long and happy marriage is love and taking care of one another,” Mr Lambert said.

The 94-year-old said it was love at first sight for him. He spotted his future wife one evening as she stood waiting for a train on Front Street.

She was 15 at the time, headed for her home on Crawl Hill in Hamilton Parish. He was 18 and going to Scaur Hill, Sandys.

“He asked me what time the train to Sandys left,” Mrs Lambert said. “I said I didn’t know; I was going the other way.”

They got to talking and took a stroll towards the water while they waited for their trains.

“There was a beautiful moon that night,” Mr Lambert said. “A star went across the sky and I made a wish on it. I wished the night would never end.”

But it did. It wasn’t until three years later that their paths crossed, again on Front Street. Mrs Lambert was working at Paget Guest House at the time and Mr Lambert asked her to accompany him to the Agricultural Exhibition.

“Two guys I worked with didn’t like that I was going with him and followed us all around the show, but we had a great time together,” she said.

Her father, Rupert Hill, was very strict.

“He always told us children that we weren’t to be standing by the road talking to a boy,” she said. “We had to bring him in to meet my parents.”

It took some cajoling to get Mr Lambert to agree. “He was scared of my father but they liked him more than they liked me,” Mrs Lambert laughed. “My mother would bake for him every Sunday — not me, him.”

They were married on September 23, 1948, in St James Church in Sandys.

For most of their married life they lived on Khyber Pass in Warwick.

She and her husband had a difficult time feeding such a large brood and held a number of jobs over the years.

“My first job was at 12 years old working for a lady in Tucker’s Town,” Mrs Lambert said. “When I got older I worked for a number of homes doing housekeeping.” One of Mr Lambert’s first jobs was on the old Darrell’s Island airport taking care of sea planes that came in. “I’d have to drag them up on to the beach,” he said. “I’d have to get them cleaned up, gassed up and ready to go out again the next day.”

Later, he worked as a groundskeeper and then a caddie at Belmont and Riddell’s Bay golf courses. He worked as a messenger for Riihiluoma’s for seven years before he retired in his eighties.

“He was always working to take care of all of us children,” said his daughter, Cheryl Swan. “But he has always been a wonderful father.”

The born-again Christians worship at Gospel Hall on Cobbs Hill. They attribute their long lives and happy marriage to God. The Lamberts’ children are Derek, Juliette, Joanne, twins Leon and Lynn, Barbara Jean, Nigel, Elystan, Brendan, Elaine, Cheryl, Darlene and Alan. They have 32 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren.

Celebrating happiness: Barbara and Ed Lambert were childhood sweethearts and have been married for 68 years