Winners remember their day

PUBLISHED: 11:19 15 April 2008 | UPDATED: 06:59 30 May 2010

Former winners of The Dunmow Flitch.
Dunmow.
April 12, 2008.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: Jack and Joan.
Names (L-R): Jack Shepherd; Joan Shepherd.

Former winners of The Dunmow Flitch. Dunmow. April 12, 2008. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: Jack and Joan. Names (L-R): Jack Shepherd; Joan Shepherd.

WEEK three in our journey into the Dunmow Flitch trials and the Broadcast has tracked down previous winners to share their experience with us. Jack and Joan Shepherd were deemed worthy of a flitch in 2000 and became the first winners of the prize this mil

WEEK three in our journey into the Dunmow Flitch trials and the Broadcast has tracked down previous winners to share their experience with us.

Jack and Joan Shepherd were deemed worthy of a flitch in 2000 and became the first winners of the prize this millennium.

The couple, from Highfields in Great Dunmow, were over the moon to receive the coveted side of bacon.

Jack, who is now 88, explains: "It was exhilarating to be on top of the chair and paraded through the town, it was a lovely morning and a day I wont forget." Joan agreed with her husband, who she has been married to for 64 years.

"It was a really great day, even when we had to kneel on the pointed stones to take our oaths," she said.

The couple knew two months in advance that they would be taking part, but were sworn to secrecy by the flitch selection panel.

"It was difficult to keep it in at times, and some of our family missed it as a result, but it is part of the tradition, and what makes it all so special," said Jack.

The couple met before the Second World War when they were working together in a laboratory at John Knights in east London, however their love was so great that they could not wait until after the war to get married.

Jack said: "We were married in 1944 and a bomb dropped nearby almost ruining the ceremony, it didn't stop us though." Jack was on 10 days leave from the marines at the time, and the couple enjoyed a four day honeymoon in Dorking, Surry, before Jack was shipped off to the pacific to serve on HMS Lothian.

They applied to take part in the flitch trials on the advice of their solicitor, Michael Chapman, after making their first will together.

Recalling their Saturday morning trial the couple revealed how seriously the event is taken. Joan said: "It is all done very professionally. They don't give out the flitch to anyone, because some couples failed that year, we really had to prove that we were in love."

The couple enjoyed the day so much they still have the hock from the winning flitch in their freezer, and although Jack points out that it is not edible, it still serves as a timely reminder of a very special day.

# WOULD?you like to see who wins the flitch this year? Get your tickets from Banana Travel, call 01371 875757, or by post to DFT?ticket sales, 35 Delcroft, Ware, Herts SG12 0BH.

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