A LOVING couple are this week celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary.

Tom and Vilma Hitchen from Greenmount yesterday marked their platinum anniversary after enjoying 70 years of matrimony.

The secret to their long and happy marriage, they say, is "having enjoyed good health, good neighbours and firm friendships".

Mr and Mrs Hitchen were both born in Nelson, Lancashire, in June 1929.

After meeting at a dance hall, aged 16, the couple's romance blossomed.

It was only briefly interrupted by Mr Hitchen's national service in the Royal Air Force Police, between 1947 and 1949, during which time he was deployed in Egypt.

At the time Vilma was working as a bookkeeper and cashier at a store in Nelson.

However, upon Mr Hitchen's demobilisation, he and Vilma married at St Bede's Church, Nelson, on April 15, 1950.

Bury Times: Tom and Vilma Hitchen on their wedding day on April 15, 1950Tom and Vilma Hitchen on their wedding day on April 15, 1950

The couple soon settled in Colne, where Mr Hitchen was stationed after joining the Lancashire Constabulary, and the birth of their two sons, John and Kevin, followed.

In 1960 the family moved to Bury when Mr Hitchen was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Bury Police Station.

With both children at school, Mrs Hitchen took up a part-time job at the Woodhill offices of the Bury Boot and Shoe Company in Brandlesholme Road.

She later moved to a full-time role in the buying office until her partial retirement aged 60.

However, she was later persuaded to return to a part-time position until taking full retirement aged 65.

Meanwhile, Mr Hitchen further his policing career at Whitefield and Ramsbottom stations before he left the service after 25 years in 1974.

He later accepted as position as a security and safety officer at the Trinity Paper Mill in Bridge Street, Ramsbottom, until he retired in 1992.

In retirement Mr and Mrs Hitchen both enjoy ballroom dancing, which has taken them to Taskers Dance Studio and the Elizabethan Suite in Bury, and the Astoria Civic Hall in Rawtenstall.

They are also fond taking holidays and short breaks in their caravan to the Lake District and Fylde coast, as well as longer trips and cruises to the hotter climes of Europe.

Both also enjoying looking after their five great-grandchildren ­— though "not all at once", the couple remarked.

When the current lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak is lifted, Mr and Mrs Hitchen are planning to celebrate the occasion of their anniversary with their family, their son John told the Bury Times.