CHILDHOOD sweethearts James and Jean Geldard had an explosive start to their relationship.

The couple, who celebrated their golden anniversary last Friday, met, aged 12, at a bonfire night display in Darlington.

It took three years for them to start courting but neither has looked back.

Mrs Geldard, 69, of Rosedale Crescent, Branksome, said: "It was love at second sight really. I'd met him once and then when I met him again, aged 15, I knew he was definitely the one for me." The couple married, aged 19, at St Mary's Church in Cockerton and had seven children: Melvin, 49, Robert, 46, Ellen, 45, June, 44, George, 41, Ann, 40 and Assa, 39.

Mr Geldard, 69, said: "It's been a happy 50 years. We've stuck together through thick and thin."

The couple celebrated the anniversary with a meal with the family, including 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. An eighth great-grandchild is expected any day.