A chance meeting at a football game proved to be a match made in heaven for Russ and Dora Smith who are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary today.
The Hartlepool couple met in 1955 at a match between Newcastle and Sunderland when Russ was home on leave from his Army National Service.
He was immediately taken with Dora’s blonde hair and blue eyes and after striking up a friendship they arranged to write to each other.
After being demobbed the following year, Russ courted Dora for two years before they got engaged.
Exactly 60 years ago today they were married at St Mary’s Church in Horden.
They will celebrate today’s special occasion with a family meal today and a party at the weekend.
Russ, 85, said the secret of their marriage was forgiveness and compatibility.
He added: “Our love has grown stronger and we work together and know what each other is thinking.
“We are a close knit family.” Russ and Dora have two children; Orston and Tracey, and two grandchildren Charlotte and Max Lancaster.
Russ who had worked as a motor mechanic served as a firefighter in Hartlepool for almost 30 years.
Dora, 82, was hairdresser and ran her own salon in Lister Street and later Lowthian Road.
Today, the couple, who live at Seaton Carew, try to keep fit and enjoying cycling and dancing with friends.
Dora previously represented the county at bowls and has won many trophies.
Sports fan Russ enjoyed playing football, cycling and ran a number of half marathons.
They have also enjoyed many holidays all over the world including cruises and have visited friends in Australia many times.