THEY say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
For two Wearside newly-weds this is definitely true, after more than five decades passed since their first date.
John Hardy, 80, and Joyce Doughty, 75, have tied the knot after rekindling the love they first shared back in the 1950s.
The couple were courting when they were in their early 20s, but ended up going their separate ways.
But now a twist of fate has brought them back together.
Joyce, originally from Ryhope, said: “When my husband died, John was already a widower and he saw in the paper that I was now a widow.
“After that he decided to write to me and that is how we got back in touch.
“It just felt right to get married and now it feels really good. I will turn 76 on Sunday as well so that is another reason to celebrate.”
She said: “I think after all this time if it had not been John I would not have married again – but I knew all about John and his family.
“The day went really well and it was just a small thing for friends and family. Some people even travelled up from Hampshire and York for the day which was really good.”
John, from Silksworth, said: “We knew each other when we were young and we courted when I was in my 20s and Joyce was 18.
“However, we went our separate ways and got married to different people.
“But since then Joyce became a widow and I became widower and so it has worked out that we are getting married.
“It was 15 years ago that we met again for the first time and I like to say that love has come a second time.”
The couple got married at Sunderland Civic Centre on Wednesday and then headed to Gatsby in Derwent Street for the reception.
Joyce said: “We had an absolutely beautiful day. The meal at Gatsby was absolutely wonderful. They couldn’t do enough for us. I’m so thankful to them. There were 21 of us there and it was a lovely event.
Karen Dickman, who owns Gatsby with her husband John, said: “They are really lovely people and it is nice to have something like this when there is so much doom and gloom around.”