Love’s journey

Bill & Jane now

Posted on: 5th February, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” Sam Keen, from To Love and Be Loved.

Bill and Jane Otway, both in their 90s and living in Schull, recently celebrated 69 years of marriage. The couple, who retired from Trinidad to Schull in the early eighties, speak to West Cork People about life, love and what makes a marriage work.

Bill and Jane Otway have been a part of each other’s lives for almost eighty years. They have grown up together, traversed a World War together, raised a family together, travelled around the world together, before finally retiring to enjoy the rest of their lives together in a place that after one visit captured their hearts — a tiny village in West Cork called Schull.

Bill and Jane first crossed paths as children. “When Bill travelled from the West Indies at the age of 13 to attend school in England, my parents became his guardians,” explains Jane “I was 12 at the time.”

Bill went on to join the Royal Navy and Jane joined the Women’s Land Army (a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military). When Bill came home on leave in the early forties, the couple began their courtship. It wasn’t long before Bill got down on one knee — on the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral.

The wedding took place in a little Methodist Church in Devon on January 29, 1945. With only one train running on the day, Bill, who had arranged time off from the Navy to exchange his vows, luckily arrived on time. Jane wore an off-white taffeta dress from her wardrobe. She went out and bought some material so sleeves could be added to dress it up for her wedding day. “There was snow on the ground,” recalls Jane “and I remember my mother calling up Bill to make sure he had a tray of rings for me to choose my wedding band from!”

After a brief but very romantic honeymoon in the beautiful coastal town of St. Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall, the couple returned to their respective wartime careers in the Navy and Land Army.

Jane remembers the land army as being hard work but a lot of fun; the women had to do everything from scything grass to feeding the pigs.

“I ended up ‘in’ the pig swill on occasion,” remembers Jane smiling. We had to stand on wooden planks to scrape out the swill into the smaller containers to feed the pigs and of course the planks would get slippery, so in I went…”

After the war, the couple decided to move to Trinidad to properly begin married life together and start a family. They had two sons, John and David.

Bill & Jane thenAfter a short period, Bill left the Navy to work in the oil business in Trinidad, which took the young family to New Zealand for two years, from 1950 to 1952. “I loved everything about New Zealand and didn’t want to come home,” says Jane.

After moving back to Trinidad, once John and David had finished their primary education, both boys were sent to England to attend boarding school.

Later, on a trip to West Cork visiting friends, Bill and Jane both fell in love with Schull, which reminded them of the lifestyle that New Zealand had offered in the early years of their marriage. They purchased their home in Schull in 1981. “We longed for a cooler climate, and really enjoyed the people and the relaxed way of life,” explains Jane. “I wanted to feel cool on my face and not sweat!”

Over the course of their marriage, the couple have enjoyed doing many things together, in particular the many sailing trips shared on their beloved yacht ‘Nancy Jane’, often taking holidays to Tobago and the other islands of the Caribbean with family and friends.

Although a great age now, both in their nineties, Bill and Jane still love life and each other today. To celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary, the couple took a short break to Casey’s in Baltimore, a place where they have often enjoyed stays over the years.

And the secret to their long and happy marriage…“Good health and a sense of humour,” says Jane smiling at Bill.

Latest News Articles:

Global Shares to create 80 new jobs
Ford 100 Fest on Ford family farm to mark 100 years of Ford in Ireland
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival launches delectable programme
Healing with a harp
Plan the perfect wedding day at the Fota Island Resort Wedding Forum
Clutching at straws for Coalition
Lee’s and Nils: West Cork clubs in the city
The walk of a lifetime
West Cork farmers take gold at National Farmer of the Year Awards
Shining success for Union Hall Centra store at 2017 Quality Awards

Join us on Facebook

Dunmanway Historical Association regrets to announce that the talk on Sile na Gig which was to take place on Thursday, 24th August in Atkins hall @ 8:30pm has been cancelled. ... See MoreSee Less

18th August, 2017  ·  

This year Wild Atlantic Tag sponsored by Marine Harvest will take place in Adrigole on Saturday August 5th. All are welcome, whether you are a team entry or an individual looking to join a team. The teams will be divided into two sections, Social & Seriously Social! Please contact Sean (0879568363) or Joey (0879865827) to register. It promises to be great craic with plenty of refreshments available pre and post-match! Fantastic local musician Eoghan McEllhenny will entertain the rugby masses from 4.30pm followed by Peadar O’Callaghan and renowned Natural Gas will round off the night from 9.30pm! ... See MoreSee Less

14th July, 2017  ·  

A woodland walk will take place on the 22nd June at 7pm in Glengarriff Nature Reserve. This is a great opportunity to learn about woodlands, their plants and wildlife and is an opportunity not to be missed. Glengarriff Nature Reserve was designated as a Nature reserve in 1991, and covers over 300 acres in size. It is a beautiful and unique woodlands containing many different habitats and is owned and managed by NPWS primarily for conservation and amenity purposes. The event is led by National Parks Ranger Clare Heardman and has been organised by Cork Nature Network For further information please contact events@corknaturenetwork.ie ... See MoreSee Less

19th June, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top