A LOVING couple who have clocked up 70 years of marriage say the secrets of their decades of happiness are love, respect, understanding... and the occasional argument.

Jean and Ernie Soderman were married at St Mary's Church, in Cockerton, Darlington, on September 2, 1944.

They celebrated their platinum anniversary with their family – including grandchildren and great-grandchildren – at the town's Bannatyne Hotel on Tuesday (September 2) night.

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It was a relaxing change of pace for 92-year-old adrenaline junkie Mr Soderman, who went paragliding on his 85th birthday, flying on his 90th and gliding a year later.

Mr and Mrs Soderman met while they were still teenagers, during a swimming trip to Gladstone Street Baths with their respective groups of friends.

It didn't take long for the pair to realise they were right for each other.

Mr Soderman, remembers promising his wife's father that he would look after her forever.

His 88-year-old wife remembers torrential rain on their wedding day, but said that failed to ruin the occasion.

They spent their honeymoon in Whitley Bay – where it continued to rain.

Both now retired, Mr Soderman worked as a senior estimator for Whessoe Engineering, while Mrs Soderman was a secretary at Nationwide Building Society.

The couple, from Mowden, have three grown-up children – Michael, Ron and Anne – as well as three grand-children and three great-grandchildren.

Son Michael said: "Congratulations to mum and dad on their 70th wedding anniversary.

"They have always demonstrated to the family that all you need is a lot of love and a little patience.

"All of the family are really proud to be toasting them on this very special anniversary."

Asked what they put their long and happy marriage down to, the couple said: "Love, give and take – and a genuine understanding and respect of one another – you have got to work at marriage, everyone argues sometimes."

Mrs Soderman said she couldn’t have asked for a better husband – a true gentleman who has spent his life looking after her.

Mr Soderman said that he couldn’t have asked for a better wife and thinks the key to happiness has always been their love for one another and their family.