Wolverhampton couple celebrate diamond wedding after chance meeting in dance hall
THEIR 60-year love story may never have started if it was not for a chance encounter at the cinemas.
But great grandparents-of-23 Joyce and Terry Gittins will remember it forever as the day their romance began.
The Wolverhampton couple, who toasted their diamond wedding anniversary last Thursday, met at a dance in Mrs Gittins' hometown of Darlington when she was just 15.
While scouring the dance hall for her friend, she bumped into her husband-to-be, who was stationed in Yorkshire's Catterick Garrison - more than 120 miles from his Finchfield home.
The soldier, then 18, clasped eyes on his future wife and asked to accompany her home, before inviting her to the cinema the next day.
Worried what her mother would say, Mrs Gittins recalled secretly rejected the proposal and instead decided to go to a different cinema with her friend.
But when she got off the bus, she spotted Mr Gittins with his army pals and realised they had ended up at the same place after all.
Mrs Gittins, who has four children with her 82-year-old husband, said: "[My friend and I] had to say we were late and were coming to meet them. We went to the pictures and from then, that was it."
The couple, who have lived in St Jude's Road for the past 50 years, began courting for six months before Mr Gittins was whisked off to Kenya with the army.
But the distance was no competition for their relationship, with the pair spending the next two-and-a-half years writing to each other to keep the flame alive.
When Mr Gittins returned, the pair got engaged and married in Darlington on September 7, 1957, before enjoying a honeymoon in Scarborough and starting their life together in Tettenhall.
Former nurse Mrs Gittins candidly admitted it was not love at first sight but now could not imagine life without her other half, who also worked for British Telecom.
Revealing the secret behind her long and happy marriage, the 79-year-old said: "I think it's give and take. He has always worked, we have always had nice holidays together.
"We did not have a lot of money when we were younger. He has been a really lovely husband, a good dad, and he loves his grandchildren."