THREE couples from Poole who met during their school days have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries together – on the other side of the world.

Ron Rayner, Tony Forrester and Russell Glenister were at Poole Grammar School together between 1950 and 1957, when they met their respective spouses, Di, Ann and Margaret, who attended Henry Harbin School (now Poole High) or, in Ann’s case, Parkstone Grammar.

All emigrated to New Zealand independently of each other in the 1960s and 1970s – and now, aged in their 70s, remain close friends.

Their lives have been intertwined for decades.

Di and Ron Rayner and Tony and Ann Forrester were childhood sweethearts while Russell Glenister, who went to nursery with Tony’s wife Ann during the war, recalls meeting his wife Margaret at the Old Royal Ballroom in Boscombe.

He told the Echo: “I arranged to meet a girl there whom I had met the week before – but I must have forgotten what she looked like and picked the wrong one – a case of mistaken identity – but the rest is history!”

Ron and Di led the way to New Zealand in the 1960s. Russell and Marg went to Australia with their three young children in 1968 – but ended up moving to New Zealand ten years later.

Already there were Tony and Ann who had emigrated in 1971.

The friends, who all live in Auckland and still see each other regularly, raised their families together – and now have eight children and 13 grandchildren between them.

Marg and Di even worked together in the local bank.

Russell told the Echo: “Ron and I had 30-foot sailing boats and socialised on many trips out in our beautiful harbour and Tony and I get a game of golf in when possible.”

Their golden wedding anniversaries all passed in the last few years.

Tony and Ann’s in 2010 – where best man at their wedding Russell made a second speech 50 years later.

Ron and Di celebrated five decades together last year, and Russell and Marg marked the date in 2013.

Russell added: “It is remarkable that we are all still together, and our kids are also great friends.

“As you can imagine there is quite a bit of talk about the old days, and we all agree that we were so lucky to be raised in the best part of the UK at a great time.

“I remember the beaches, the jazz and sailing on Poole Harbour.

“We still get over quite often for a couple of weeks.

“You can take the boy out of Poole, but you cannot take Poole out of the boy!”