Love was in the air onboard Fiji Airways’ Wings of Love Flight FJ679 that made a special around the country ‘heart-shaped’ trip on Valentine’s Day, and among passengers were Lautoka couple Annie and Thomas Pickering.
As winners of a competition co-organised by the airline and Mai TV Fiji, the Pickerings were among couples on yesterday’s flight, celebrating another milestone in their respective marriages.
Reunited in 2018 after 33 years, the Pickerings wed in 2019 and were to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in 2020. But COVID-19 struck.
Income earned through their meagre market sales was just enough to see through life on a daily basis, that celebration plans were shelved, then quickly forgotten.
Until Salote Roko, Annie’s only child from her previous marriage won two tickets after entering the Fiji Airways-Mai TV Fiji competition via the local television station’s Facebook platform.
“It was a surprise wedding gift for us. It’s Valentine’s as well. We are so blessed. We thank our daughter for nominating us in the MaiTV-Fiji Airways promotion,” Annie said.
“We didn’t expect this as market vendors. We have gone through so much, but have been managing, can smile, can put food on the table, and we thank MaiTV and Fiji Airways.”
Annie and Thomas knew each other during their high school days in the old capital of Fiji, in Ovalau, he studied at Delana Methodist and she, Levuka Public School in 1985. But, upon completing studies, they went their separate ways and soon lost touch.
Years later, a chance meeting online in 2018 – Thomas, a divorcee with three children, and Annie, a widower, after her husband died in 2017 – saw them reconnect.
“We met when we were in school way back in 1985. We go our own ways then we met again after 33 years and then we decided to be together. It took us a while,” Annie said.
Also onboard the Valentines flight were Rakiraki couple, Ram Sahay, 70, and Sushila Wati, 69, whose tickets were bought by one of their sons, as a belated golden jubilee wedding anniversary gift.
The beautiful couple had not met before their wedding on 13 December 1970. They went on to have four children – two son and two daughters – and are blessed with 11 grandchildren.
Asked about their secret for a long and happy relationship, Ram said: “In life, we just need to enjoy it. Anything can happen any time, we just need to live it. If anything happens, we know we have lived a good life.”
Also on the flight were Peni and Remi Kuruleca from Delainavesi, Suva, who were celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary.
“We loved the flight very much and we enjoyed every moment of it. Maybe [we] will be back again some time. We had no problems at all,” the couple said.
The Kuruleca’s were married on 14 February 2001.
Lucky winners aboard the flight
Ten people on the flight were also gifted surprise packs, courtesy of the airline, among them, Dinesh Kumar of Sigatoka who was accompanied by his wife Sarwan Wati.
Kumar won a night’s stay at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, with full breakfast for two adults and two kids.
“This is a bonus, all thanks to our daughters,” Kumar said. “I will take my wife.”
Their daughters gifted them airline tickets to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.
The airline also gifted Fiji caps bearing autographs of Kalione Nasoko, Paula Dranisinukula and Tomasi Cama; a Crusaders jersey, four Suva-Nadi return Fiji Link tickets, another night’s stay giveaway for a couple at Sofitel Fiji and a night stay at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay.