Hartlepool teenage sweethearts celebrate 70 years of marriage

Newly weds Richard and Rita Drake pictured on their wedding day.

Newly weds Richard and Rita Drake pictured on their wedding day.

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Richard Drake may have had two left feet as a teenager on the dance floor - but that didn’t stop 16-year-old Rita from falling head over heels for him.

Today, the couple - who first met at Queens Rink dance hall in Hartlepool - celebrate 70 years of marriage.

“The war was still on so things were bad. It was really hard to book somewhere for the reception, but we all pulled together and it was a lovely day.”

Rita Drake

Mrs Drake said, 92, said: “I was 16, he was a year older. He asked me to dance but he couldn’t dance.

“He had two left feet so I ended up taking him around the dance floor and it went from there.”

The couple, who now live in Vicarage Court, Hartlepool, were married at All Saints Stranton Church in the town.

The couple hosted an afternoon tea for their reception with family and friends before going on honeymoon in London.

Mrs Drake, who worked as a signaller on the railways, added: “The war was only just over so things were bad.

“It was really hard to book somewhere for the reception, but we all pulled together and it was a lovely day.

“After we were married we lived with my parents for a while as there were no houses being built after a while eventually moved into Mapleton Road.

“It was a struggle to get things for our home together but both our parents were very helpful.”

The couple went on to have one daughter Margaret and have one grand-daughter and one great-grandson.

They marked their platinum anniversary with a party at the sheltered accommodation unit where they live, along with family and friends.

Mr Drake, 93, who worked as a railway engineer and later a caretaker at Hartlepool College of Further Education until he retired, said: “Rita was a lovely girl which is what attracted me to her.”

The couple carried on their dancing attending sessions three times a week until their health prevented them from continuing.

When asked about the secret to their long and happy marriage Mrs Drake said: “We have worked hard together and we have had a long and happy marriage.

“It’s all about give and take.”