From pen pals to wedding bells – a Sunderland couple is celebrating being married for 60 years.
Gordon and Violent Cruickshank are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary after they tied the knot 60 years ago today.
The couple, both 83, of Castletown, wrote to each other for two years before they met, while Gordon, originally from Dufftown, Scotland, was serving in the British Army.
During his tour of the Middle East in the 1950s, he began receiving letters from Violet.
He said: “Everyone had a pen pal except for me, and a lad who I was stationed with said he’d get his sister to find me someone to write to.
“He was from Sunderland and his sister worked at Hepworths Tailors with Violet, who was a seamstress, and asked her to write to me.”
While Gordon was on leave, he travelled to Sunderland to meet Violet and they fell in love, staying in contact until his service was complete.
He then moved to Sunderland so they could be together.
Gordon got a job as a baker and was home for two months before he was called back into active service in response to the Suez Crisis in 1956, which aimed to regain Western control of the Suez Canal.
He went back into the Army, but not before marrying the girl of his dreams, and thankfully he was back home just a few weeks later.
They said ‘I do’ at St Mary’s & St Peter’s Church, in Springwell Road, on August 18, 1956.
They went on to have three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Gordon said: “We had to go to Durham Cathedral to ask for special permission to get married before I went back into the Army, and we had the wedding just one week later.
“Violet didn’t get to have her white dress and we don’t have any proper wedding pictures, but we wanted to get married before I went away again.”
The couple, who received a card of congratulations from the Queen this week, have enjoyed spending time together over the years, sharing their love for dancing and music.
Gordon added: “We’ve had our ups and downs just like everyone else but you just have to get on with it and get through it together.
“I think the secret is give and take.”
The couple will be celebrating their special day by going out for a meal with their family.