A SERIOUS dose of Asian flu could not stop Bob and Mary Abbott from tying the knot and the couple are now celebrating a marriage lasting a healthy 60-years.

The couple first met at the Big Meet at Durham Racecourse in 1952, and Mr Abbott admits that it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

“I don’t think she liked me much, and I didn’t like her much until later on, it was just one of those things,” he joked.

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The couple courted for five years and were very poorly days before their wedding, but managed to fight through the flu to wed at St Luke’s Church in Ferryhill on October 5, 1957.

Mr Abbott said: “We were both suffering from Asian flu and were in bed – not together – four days before the wedding but we had to get up and arrange everything.

“I drove us to Blackpool for our honeymoon and I was putting Mary to bed with a hot water bottle.”

The newly-weds lived in Durham City where Mr Abbott worked as a railway signalman while Mrs Abbott was as a secretary for the National Health Service.

They soon moved to York where they have lived for the last 47-years and Mr Abbott continued his work as a signalman while Mrs Abbott was as a secretary at venues including the Viking Hotel and the tourist office at York Station.

The pair celebrated their diamond anniversary on Thursday with friends and family at their Stockton Lane home and are also having a gathering at Tykes restaurant at Sandburn Hall, north of York, on Saturday (October 7).

Mr Abbott said the secret to enjoying a long marriage was to “hang on together” and treat each other well.

The couple have a daughter, Suzanne, a son, Ron, and four grandchildren.

Mr Abbott, 91, is originally from Ferryhill and Mrs Abbott, 85 is from Chilton.