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TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 25 MAY 2018 9
A TEENAGE love affair that be-
gan more than 50 years ago in
a small NSW town near the Vic-
torian border continues in Ten-
Marlene and Ian Hicks celebrated
their golden wedding anniversary on
While it seemed that their young ages
- 18 and 17 - and the old orange-green
divide was against them, the couple
have not only survived, but thrived.
On the day they married in Barooga
all those years ago, Marlene and Ian
had no idea they would be in Tennant
Creek for their 50th wedding anni-
versary. And even less idea that they
would be joined by the whole family
all five children, 14 grandchildren
and two great grandchildren as well
as in-laws and friends.
A surprise guest, who arrived in Ten-
nant Creek under a complete cloak
of secrecy, was Marlene’s long time
friend, Nola Russell.
The two played together as babies,
were best friends all through school
and have shared many memories
“My daughters arranged for Nola to
come up for the weekend,” Marlene
“I had no idea at all. On Friday
[daughters] Sue and Fiona suggested
I come for a drive because they had to
pick up some freight from the plane so
I went along, completely unassuming.
“I was sitting in the airport lounge
when I looked up and saw Nola.
“I burst into tears and so did she. It
was so lovely to see her.”
Nola, who had visited Marlene in
Tennant Creek nearly 30 years ago,
stayed in town until Monday, giving
the two old friends enough time for
some long chats and lots of laughs.
The celebration, held at the RSL
Club, ran perfectly.
Organised mainly by ‘the kids’ - Sue,
Laurie, Matt, Fiona and Dale and the
grandchildren, plenty of blingy gold
decorations, a three course buffet
meal, music, speeches, friendship and
fun all contributed to making the night
Kate Foran, regarded as one of the
Hicks’ ‘adopted’ kids, spent weeks
preparing 50 years worth of photos for
a Power Point presentation and MC’d
on the night.
Norm and Jean Bracken, Gill Egan
and Mike Nash took to the micro-
phone to talk about their longstanding
friendship with the Hickses, agreeing
that Marlene and Ian had truly made
them feel part of their family.
Meanwhile, another of the couple’s
good friends, John Stocks - who
couldn’t attend because he recently
moved to Tasmania for health rea-
sons - collated a thousand songs from
the 1960s - including some of his
own originals - which were played
throughout the night.
“It was such a lovely thought,”
“We were very grateful and it cer-
tainly added to the spirit of the oc-
“Even though John wasn’t here in
person, the gesture certainly made us
feel like he was right here with us.
“We also loved the oversized gold
photo frame Gill Egan made so
already-framed photos of the guests
could be taken throughout the night.
It proved to be very popular.”
One of the highlights of the occasion
was a stunning wedding cake baked
and decorated by two granddaughters,
Courtney Wickham and Berna Baksh.
Marlene said it meant so much to her.
“At our wedding all we had was an
ice-cream cake,” she said.
“We couldn’t afford anything else
and I always felt a bit sad about that
so when Courtney and Berna went to
so much effort to make a proper cake
with fondant, handmade roses and
gold trimming - it was very special to
us. I’ll never forget it, ever.
“Sarah Curran also made a lovely
chocolate and hazelnut cake, so we
were very lucky.”
A surprise that Marlene and Ian or-
ganised for the night was a blessing
and vows renewal service.
Father John Kennedy, who was
amongst guests at the celebration,
surprised everyone when he called
the couple forward. It was a touching
tribute to the many years the pair have
spent together and the many more to
Marlene and Ian brought their chil-
dren to Tennant Creek in December
1986 when the eldest two, Sue and
Laurie, were aged 18 and 17.
“Ian had been working as a linesman
and he saw an equivalent job adver-
tised here with much better pay and
conditions so we all moved up here,
“Laurie got an apprenticeship so
both he and Ian started working for
the NT Electricity Commission at the
same time while the youngest three
went to school.
“We joined the Lions Club almost
as soon as we came here and it wasn’t
long at all before we knew everybody.
“We were made to feel very wel-
come and we loved Tennant straight
away, there were great opportunities
here and lots of sporting and social
Mainly through the Lions Club,
which was very active in the 80s and
90s, Marlene and Ian became the
backbone of many events such as
races, rodeos, festivals commemora-
tive days and special functions like
catering for the Army during exercises
that brought them into town.
During the mid-90s, the Hickses
bought a block of flats in Schmidt
Street and not long afterwards they
added a retail complex in the main
They used one of the shops to estab-
lish Top of the Town Café, a business
they ran for 12 years before selling the
lease. In the meantime, their family
of seven grew to include 14 grand-
children and two great-grandchildren.
While some of them have moved
away from town there are still quite
a few family members who are well-
Marlene and Ian agree that Tennant
Creek is a special place for them.
“This is where we’re from, this is
where our family and friends are,”
“We have gained so much in so many
ways from this little town, there is
definitely something special about
“Tennant Creek is our home, we love
it and we’ll be here for good.”
Love affair continues 50 years on
Photos by NATASHA NICHOLS.
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