9 May 23 - Resident stories

Ode to Joy

For Lynley Clarke and Grahame Wright, love took a long time to blossom between them — more than 77 years, in fact!

The couple, who got married before Christmas, attended primary school together before meeting by chance 75 years later when Grahame spotted Lynley at Summerset at Wigram a few months after she moved in. He recognised her instantly. “I heard a voice say ‘Lynley Fraer!’, which is my maiden name,” said Lynley. “He reminded me we went to school together and told me I hadn’t changed a bit!”

Inspired by their mutual fondness for music, the pair rekindled their friendship at the village. Grahame, a euphonium player in his youth, had rediscovered the enjoyment of playing the instrument and would perform in the village’s monthly concerts with two other brass players. For Lynley, music has always been a huge part of her personal and professional life, and she was delighted to introduce Grahame and his late wife, Helen, to her pride and joy, her grand piano. The pair saw an opportunity for mutual music appreciation and would meet regularly to rehearse pieces for their piano–euphonium partnership.

“I have arranged more than 70 pieces of music for Grahame,” says Lynley, a long-time music teacher, “often thinking ‘Oh, this would be ideal for the euphonium.’ Grahame’s brass band background meant he hadn’t done many solos before, but now that has changed.”

The pair became very close friends, and when Helen passed away at the beginning of 2022, Lynley supported Grahame in his grief. It wasn’t long before they realised that their friendship had turned to love, and in September 2022 they became engaged.

“We went on a trip around Banks Peninsula on a stunning day and we were in the car overlooking the beachfront at Wainui,” Lynley recalls. “Grahame had been reminiscing about trips he had made there in the past, and then he asked me to marry him. I didn’t hesitate to say yes!”

“We have a very deep love. We have so much in common. I hold him in such high regard. Grahame is gentle, thoughtful and even-tempered, with a zany sense of humour,” says Lynley.

We were so fortunate to have both had good marriages before — Grahame with Helen for 58 years and me with Ian for 57 years. To find love a second time around is incredible.

The wedding was held at the end of November at the Cashmere Presbyterian Church, where the couple worship every Sunday and where Lynley is one of the three organists in the church’s music ministry team.

“It was such a busy day. We had more than 90 guests and it went by in such a blur. When the photographer sent through the wedding video recently, it was lovely to be able to sit down together and leisurely re-live the day.”

Lynley and Grahame's wedding day. Photo credit: Joel Wallan Creative

Their special day went without a hitch, but married life began eventfully, starting with the honeymoon. The pair had married on a Saturday and were due to perform in the monthly Summerset concert the following day before flying up to Auckland to catch their international flight to Rarotonga. On Saturday evening, Lynley bumped her foot on the brass leg of the coffee table. “We had to cancel our performance the next day as I had to go to Urgent Care to get my toes strapped together. Then, as we boarded the plane to Rarotonga, Grahame tripped and dislocated his knee! As soon as we landed, we had to go straight to the hospital. He had to wear a knee brace for seven days.”

Luckily, neither injury was serious, and the couple were able to enjoy ten days sipping cocktails on the sand before returning to New Zealand, when Grahame promptly caught Covid-19, just in time for Christmas. “Can you believe it?” laughs Lynley. “Grahame had to isolate in his villa, which fortunately he hadn’t yet moved out of. We had great fun telling everyone we had separated after three weeks of marriage! Our first Christmas as a married couple was spent sitting in his garden with his family, with him talking to us through the patio door!”

So far 2023 has been smooth sailing for the pair, who are in the throes of moving Grahame into Lynley’s villa. They continue to practice music together regularly. “We have the same appreciation of beautiful music. It was the music that brought us together.”

This is an article from the Autumn 2023 edition of Summerset Scene magazine

Click here to read the full issue