Pattaya Retirees: Diamond Wedding

Felicity and Graham relax in their comfortable Jomtien condominium.

PATTAYA, Thailand – It’s a likely record in the annals of Pattaya. Felicity (Foo) and Graham Smith are about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their marriage on June 6 1964. They have lived in Pattaya since 2001 and, again uniquely, have not left the country since. Not even a border run. Graham said, “The form that immigration then used to check foreigners every time you left Thailand is in tatters in my passport, so maybe it will become a collector’s item in years to come.”

Both born in Cheshire UK during the second world war, Graham inherited a textile factory whilst Felicity worked variously as a secretary after leaving school. They met at an Alderley Edge dance in 1962, unaware that they had met their lifetime partners. In due course, after marrying, they moved to Wales and ran a jewelry business. They first visited Thailand as package tourists in 1982, fell in love with Pattaya and moved here permanently 23 years ago.

“Of course, Pattaya was very different then: no traffic jams or skyscraper buildings,” recalls Felicity, “but still today we find it a hospitable and fascinating place to live. We are never bored as we have loads of friends both Thai and farang, although these days we don’t usually go out in the evenings.” The couple were founding members of Pattaya Expat Club and regularly used gymnasiums for exercise and health for many years. They are still regular attenders at Ben’s Theatre, a non-profit making Pattaya enterprise which hosts concerts and quality musicians.

The newly married couple in UK 60 years ago.

So what’s the secret of a life-long and successful marriage? They put it down to love, friendship, respect, good manners and the ability to listen to each other. Felicity explains that from day one “I” became “US” and “MY” became “OUR”. As the French author Andre Maurois put it, “A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” Another way to define an excellent marriage is two imperfect people who won’t give up on each other. That surely sums them up.

Like most expats, Felicity and Graham love the wide range of restaurants in Pattaya. Their favourite Italian menu is Marco’s and for an international treat they choose Cafe des Amis, with Chok Dee leading the field on Thai food. “But we still enjoy good old English fish and chips and Sharples Jomtien is just a short distance away,” confides Graham, “and the choice of so many cuisines is one of the delights of being here.”

Asked what’s the most important thing for potential retirees to think about, Felicity and Graham agree that the key item is comprehensive medical insurance taken out and maintained as early as possible. Both have had their fair share of later-age illnesses and ongoing insurance has saved them a small (or big) fortune from eye injections for Felicity’s “wet” macular degeneration to Graham’s two new knees and a hip replacement. “Whatever you do here, insure and don’t rely on pot luck or fund-raising sites on the internet,” they say in unison. Pattaya Mail looks forward to congratulating this unique couple on their platinum celebration in 2034.