'In sickness and in health' - Much-loved Sunderland couple overcome health battles to celebrate 55 years of happiness together
A much-loved couple who have supported each other through whatever life has thrown at them are celebrating their Emerald Wedding Anniversary.
Malcolm Barker and Mary Barker from Easington Lane, Sunderland, have marked 55 years of happiness together, surrounded by friends and family.
The couple – now aged 75 and 76 respectively – met in 1961 at the Moorsley Hut Dance.
They began dating for three years before marrying aged 20 and 21, on October 17, in 1964, at St Michael's all Angel's Church on Easington Lane.
They both started work aged 15, with Malcolm working down the pits at Herrington Colliery and Vane Tempest, Seaham, all of his life.
Mary was a skilled sewing machinist and had a number of jobs including a cashier at The Cosy Bingo and a domestic cleaner at Hetton Comprehensive.
The couple have three children Malcolm, Gary and Dianne, with the family enjoying many family caravan holidays over the years.
They also have five grandchildren, Scott, Brett, Matthew, Lois and Fraser and four great-grandchildren, Jack, Ethan, Tia and Joe.
The pair have also spent years raising funds for charity by dressing up as Santa and Mrs Claus and give children toys and sweets at their home.
Their efforts have seen them donate to Easington Lane Methodist Church, Sunderland Echo’s Talking Pages and the Royal Society for the Blind.
Eight years ago Malcolm suffered two mini-strokes and then in April 2017 Mary also sadly became ill, fighting sepsis for more than three months in hospital.
After near amputation, dialysis and many treatments later, Mary managed to overcome her battle with the illness.
But tragedy struck again in September 2017 when Mary suffered a stroke that left her paralysed.
She spent another three months in hospital before returning home to be cared for by family and carers.
But despite their struggles the couple have always been there for each other.
Daughter Dianne said: “Mary and Mac are highly loved and very respected pillars of their beloved local communities and seeing them celebrating their Emerald Wedding Anniversary is truly a blessing.
“Their anniversary is one they are very proud of but is also one that as a close family we are all exceptionally proud of.”