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60-year anniversaryJohn and Bernice Bench1963 - 2023

John and Bernice first met back in 1957 on the dance floor at Cloudland in Bowen Hills. John was a storeman for Olympic Tyres in Geebung while Bernice worked at Woolworths in the city. They parted that night without trading contact numbers. John went off to do service in the Nashos while Bernice and her family moved from Bardon to Kedron.

In 1958, John drove his gleaming new Ford Zephyr 6 from the farm in Nudgee for a night out at Cloudland and there they met once more on the dance floor. This time John couldn’t resist Bernice’s beaming smile, later offering to drive her home. The rest, as they say, is history.

John managed to convince Bernice that her future lay in Kallangur. So, after their wedding in 1963, they settled on some farming land and built their new home. A year later came child number one, followed by another three years later. They took a gamble and gave up their jobs to purchase a fruit shop in Aspley Arcade.

It wasn’t long before John’s particular attention to quality fruit and vegies, as well as Bernice’s magnetic personality, attracted the locals, ensuring a solid customer base along with a successful and hectic lifestyle. They added a milk bar with almost everyone in the family helping out at some time over the years.

By the ‘80s the pair decided to sell the shop as new supermarkets were gaining momentum and killing off the small stores. They tried their hand at milk and bread deliveries. Bernice was often seen delivering Meals on Wheels in the Pine Rivers area. In the background however, the farm was gearing up. What started as a small production of vegies to sell to passers-by quickly turned into ‘The Strawberry Farm’. Each year due to public demand the output increased and John and Bern became best known for “that strawberry farm in Kallangur”, becoming a fulltime job for them both for many years.

By 2005, Kallangur had grown and the farm was now surrounded. They both realised it was time to sell up and move on. A rural home in Elimbah attracted them with regular visits to the Bribie passage often ensuring local mudcrabs on the table.

Known to their family as Mum and Dad/Grandma and Granddad, John and Bernice are the classic couple with strengths that covered each other’s weaknesses. They are two individuals with their own personalities but when combined made their marriage last through the decades.

They recently celebrated their 60th anniversary with their two children and families, including their four grandchildren, along with many old friends and family at the Caboolture Sports Centre, arriving in style one more time.

Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary John and Bernice, from the staff

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