'Still very much in love' - Hartlepool couple toast 70 years of marriage on platinum anniversary
A Hartlepool couple who said "I do" after meeting at a Christmas party are celebrating seven decades of marriage.
Rita Doughty, 92, and Noel Hick, 93, met in 1947 before saying their vows at Hartlepool's St Luke's Church two years later.
They now live at Queen Meadows Care Home, on Stockton Road, where they moved to ensure they could stay side by side.
A special party was held in their honour to mark the occasion with cake, cards, gifts and balloons - as well as a landmark telegram from the Queen to congratulate them.
The couple married on May 24, 1949 and their wedding reception took place at the now-demolished Corporation Café, on the town's Musgrave Street.
Rita said: “We are still very happy and still very much in love.”
Noel added: “Both living in Queens Meadow has enabled us to live side-by-side and spent the rest of our lives together.”
The couple have one daughter, Jane, a son-in-law, David and a granddaughter who lives overseas in Seattle.
During their younger years, both Rita and Noel worked at a number of hospitals in the region, meeting at one of their festive parties.
Rita was at York City Fever Hospital, later renamed Yearsley Bridge Hospital when it became part of the NHS during its foundation in 1948, while Noel worked as an engineer between several hospitals.
Julie Armstrong, home manager at Queens Meadow Care Home, said: “We were delighted to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of residents Rita and Noel.
“They are such a lovely couple and, even after 70 years of marriage, so devoted to each other.
"It was a privilege to hold their party at the care home to mark their amazing milestone. They both had a wonderful day.”