A WHIRLWIND romance began fifty years of wedded bliss for a Darlington couple.

Doreen and Arnold Bower had their first date in 1964 and were married just three weeks later.

However, it wasn’t love at first sight for the couple who hated each other when they first met as schoolchildren growing up on opposite sides of Darlington.

Loading article content

It was only when Mr Bower returned from active Army duty in Cyprus in 1964 “all tanned and with lovely black hair” that Mrs Bower agreed to go on a date with him.

Just weeks later, the couple enjoyed a modest registry office wedding before settling into Army life, travelling the world and bringing up four children.

Mr and Mrs Bower – both 69 - will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on Friday (July 25) and say the key to a long marriage is trust, commitment and support.

Mr Bower said: “Trust has kept us together, a lot of trust and love – I love her more each year we’re together.

“We’ve never fallen out, we’ve had differences but I just laugh things off and pull faces at her through the window.

“What makes us happiest is our family – if everything’s alright with them, we’re happy and we’ve been lucky to have a really close family.”

Mrs Bower added: “We’ve had some bad times and some tragedies but we’ve always supported each other.

“Couples these days want everything straight away but when we started out, we didn’t have much money and we lived off potatoes for a while – we worked for everything and you have to keep working to stay together.”

The couple celebrated their anniversary at an early surprise party thrown by their children at The Copper Beech pub last week and will continue their celebrations in Benidorm during a holiday paid for by family.