An engineer and his assistant is a love story we’ve seen a time or two. However, for Trudy Patoir (formerly Menard) and Barclay Patoir, it was different. Their story would not only stand the test of time but also inspire generations for decades to come.
Barclay and Trudy first met back in 1943 during World War Two. Barclay was originally from the Caribbean but traveled to the United Kingdom to help Britain with their increase in war production. The apprentice engineer was tasked to work on Halifax bombers, where Trudy would be assigned to be his assistant.
During this time, Trudy objected to her position with a new boss, who was a Black man but eventually accepted the position to keep from losing her job. With Trudy being intimidated and scared, Barclay started to bring tea and eventually sandwiches to ease their work relationship. Neither would know that eventually, their boss and assistant work status would slowly blossom into a relationship that would be historic. In an interview with the BBC back in 2017, the love story of the couple was told to the world.
They would have their first date together when their factory gave them some time off. Trudy said even on their first date: they would receive a form of disapproval that would carry on for years to come. Dating more frequently, the couple would sit in parks for dates or attend tea rooms. Just a year after meeting, Trudy told her former boss and boyfriend she was ready to marry him. Their families, friends, colleagues, and even the priest Trudy wanted to marry them—would tell the couple marriage was an unwise choice.
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Trudy recalled the memory, “He said, ‘There’s so many colored men coming over here and going back home leaving the women with children. So I’m not marrying you.’ We were upset about that,” she added.
This is one of many negative opinions the couple would hear about their love. The couple would eventually move to Manchester, “I had a friend who told me: ‘Come to Manchester. It’s more hospitable, and there aren’t as many racial problems,'” Barclay said. “But it was difficult to find accommodation because nobody would have you if you were a mixed marriage,” he added. Being from Wythenshawe, the couple was the first mixed couple in their new housing development.
“We were the only mixed-race couple there, but we didn’t have any trouble in the community,” Trudy said. Going on to have two daughters of their own, Jean and Betty, the Patoirs said as years went on, society grew more and more accepting of their relationship. Trudy’s own mother, who disapproved of their relationship, came around more often after their two daughters were born.
“She would come every weekend to stay – she loved seeing the girls,” Trudy recalled.
“Before people would stop and watch you, or whisper and laugh as you passed and now they’re not bothered,” Barclay said. “People don’t walk on the other side of the street like they used to,” Trudy added. Adding members to the Patoir family, Trudy and Barclay went on to have their two daughters, three grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. The couple had reached been such an inspiration, the Queen and the Pope congratulated them on their 70th wedding anniversary.
“Trudy is genuine, she’s a partner,” the husband said. “Every morning I wake up I thank the Lord for having such a good wife,” Barclay added. Trudy and Barclay passed away within hours of each other in 2020.
How do you think Trudy and Barclay’s story helped pave the way for mixed marriages today? If you were inspired by this article, pass it along to other people who will love it as well!