WARTIME wedding bells rang out across Darlington when a young couple married 70 years ago.

On June 19 1943, the bells of St Cuthbert’s Church pealed for the first time since the beginning of World War II and marked the marriage of Phil and Irene Sefton.

Seventy years later to the day, the couple – now both 93 - celebrated their anniversary as they reminisced fondly about their “perfect” wedding day.

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Retired headteacher Mr Sefton, now living at the Ventress Hall care home in Darlington, said: “Church bells going off marked a sign of invasion back then.

“I wondered why our wedding caused people to run for cover.”

Mr Sefton was on leave from the Navy when he met his bride-to-be, Sunday school teacher Irene, in Darlington’s South Park in 1939.

He said: “I was walking there with my RAF friend and saw Irene. We had a bit of banter, as you did. We separated but later that day, the sirens went off and we ended up in the same air raid shelter.”

Retired beauty salon owner Mrs Sefton picked up the story, saying: “The sirens went off and fate brought us together. It was love at first sight.”

The couple brought up their two daughters – Margaret and Elizabeth - in Darlington and now have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

They put seven decades of happiness down to tolerance and laughter and offered advice to young couples.

Mrs Sefton said: “Just be patient. People nowadays want everything straightaway but you have to work hard.

“Do not get into debt, work at it and pull together, don’t expect everything at once.”

Mr Sefton said: “You have to give and take, work things out and never go to sleep on a row, each has to give a bit and admit a bit and then, if you are meant for each other, you will work it out.”