At 19, Tony Bowater sold his prize drum kit to help pay for the engagement ring for his 18-year-old sweetheart, Janine Collingwood.
With permission given from Janine’s father, Tony set off to work a little early one morning and called in at Janine’s workplace along the way – the ring safely tucked down, deep in his pocket.
“It was a very long time ago, but my memory tells me she came out to the car and I told her we had better make this official,” says Tony. “I can’t claim it was particularly romantic, because I didn’t get down on one knee to propose and I wasn’t confident about choosing the ring for her by myself, so we chose it together.
“She knew the proposal was coming at some stage, and we knew we couldn’t get married for a while. Janine’s mother had very firmly said she had to wait until she was 20. We married two days after her twentieth birthday.”
Tony and Janine were teenagers when they met at a Nelson nightclub.
“It was one of those classic moments. We were there with our own groups of friends and our eyes met across the room – the dance floor was between us,” Tony grins. “I wanted to buy her a drink, but she wanted to buy me a drink. I told her she could buy me a drink on the condition she allowed me to take her to lunch on Monday.
“I was 45 minutes late for that lunch date because something came up at work. Over the years, Janine has often said she should have taken my lateness that day as a warning sign; that I was always going to be a bit too dedicated to work.
“I haven’t changed,” he laughs “I’ll duck into the office to do something and I’ll still be there, three hours later. Fortunately for me, Janine understands my work ethic and she knows I wouldn’t be late for special events or family occasions.”
“There wasn’t a lot of money for jewellery in those early years of our marriage,” Tony remembers. “We started our family – Joel, who is now 25, Jontee is 22, and Oscar is 15 – and we were mortgaged to the hilt. One year, I bought her a bottle of perfume for her birthday. She insisted I take it back and told me the money would be much better spent on nappies.”
Janine concedes; yes, she did turn down the gift of perfume. “The perfume Tony chose happened to be rather strong,” she laughs. “It was a really nice idea, but we didn’t have a lot of spare cash in the early years of our marriage.”
Now, when asked how she feels about Jens Hansen jewellery being bought for her, Janine happily says “perfect.”
And, as for Tony’s prized drum kit, he replaced it with a new set once he and Janine had been married for about 10 years. He has no idea where that original drum kit ended up, but asked if he made on the deal when he sold them back in the 1980s, he smiled and said: “I guess I did – yes. I’ve had the last 26 years, married to Janine.”