THREE children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren were planning a surprise event on Thursday to help Neil and Jean Hartley celebrate their diamond wedding.
The couple, of Watson Avenue, Dewsbury, were married in Wakefield after meeting a year earlier at the city’s Opera House – when Jean was courting Neil’s best friend.
Mr Hartley, 78, said: “A few of us used to go every week, up in the gods, and she must have thought I was better looking!
“At the time of the wedding I was serving with the RAF. I came on leave on Wednesday, married on Saturday and was back in Germany on Wednesday.”
Consequently, the nearest the newly-weds got to a honeymoon was a break in an unlikely destination.
Mrs Hartley, 77, said: “We stayed a few days with my auntie and uncle in Scunthorpe. It was all we could afford at the time but we still enjoyed it.”
The couple, who reckon trusting one another and settling arguments are the key to a long marriage, lived in Horbury for 28 years, before moving to their current home in 1983.
Much of their time since retirement was spent touring the country by caravan, something they only stopped doing earlier this year.