A LIFELONG farmer who can trace his family’s farming history back to the 1500s is looking forward to a double celebration this month.

George Barker, formerly of Cross Lanes Farm in Scruton, celebrates his diamond wedding anniversary with his wife Mollie on July 19.

The couple had initially planned a large party to mark the occasion but the coronavirus pandemic has forced the celebration to be a smaller affair, with immediate family invited to raise a glass to the couple in their bungalow garden if the weather allows.

Four days later, the family will be celebrating again as George turns 87 on July 24.

George and Mollie married at Osmotherley Methodist Church on July 19, 1960 after meeting at a dance.

Mollie worked as a nursing sister at the Friarage Hospital and George was a dairy farmer and leader of the Northallerton Young Farmer’s Club at the time.

And despite it being more than 60-years since they first met, George remembers the moment he first set eyes on his future wife.

He said: “It was at a dance at the Friarage Hospital, my friend had a band playing there so I went along.

“And I thought, ‘that is a nice blonde girl over there, I’m going to have to talk to her’ and the rest, I suppose as they say, is history.”

In recent years George has conducted family research which revealed that his ancestors have farming roots in the area stretching back to 1580.

He has been proud to carry on the centuries-old tradition and became one of the first farmers in the Northallerton area to breed Holstein cows on his dairy farm in 1971.

The couple are both very active members in the Northallerton community, Mollie being a former chair of the Friarage Hospital Breast Cancer Support Group and a committee member for several years.

George is a member of the Probus Club and Camera Club and says the pair do lots of voluntary work.

And asked what the secret of a long and happy marriage is, George said: “Give and take.

“There is no need for divorce, all you have to do is give and take and enjoy life.”

He added that the couple have been lucky enough to travel extensively, visiting far-flung places including Hong Kong, Singapore, Costa Rica and Canada which they have both very much enjoyed.

George said he was looking forward to celebrating their anniversary, even if coronavirus has disrupted the party plans:

He said: “It has not been straightforward.

“I was planning for this a year ago but of course we have got a pandemic at the moment and it has all come to a head, so we are just going to stay at home and have a family gathering.”

George added: “We’ve got a nicely-sized garden so if it is a fine day we will all be outside reminiscing.”

George and Mollie have two sons, Neil and Gareth - who lives in Switzerland - and they have three grandchildren, Jeremy, Hannah and David.