CHILDHOOD sweethearts are today celebrating their diamond wedding.
Vince and Mary Hills met when they were at school and have enjoyed 60 years of married bliss after marrying at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Ford Estate, where they grew up.
Vince, 81, who served in the Army, still lives in the couple’s home in Seaham and visits Mary, 79, twice a day, every day, at the Old Vicarage Care Home, Ryhope, where she now lives.
Their daughter, Karen Watt, 52, one of their five children said: “They have always been very loving, and more so now than ever.
“I don’t know if it is age, but my dad is very protective of her.”
Vince, who attended High Barnes School, and Mary, a pupil at Havelock School, are also parents to Vince, 59, Brian, 56, Janice Ironside, 50, and Ian, 39.
They also have six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“The family have spread out over the years,” added Karen, of Ryhope.
“Some are in Australia, some in Cyprus and some in Portsmouth.
“Their great-grandchildren live in Crawley and Jersey.”
Mary suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Karen said: “She doesn’t really like to leave the care home now, but she does come to my house, and she was looking forward to today.
“We have just had a little tea party for them.
“Dad bought mum diamond earrings and a small diamond watch, and mum got dad a gold watch.
“I ordered them a telegram from the Queen which was due to arrive today at dad’s house.”
Karen said the couple have had their ups-and-downs.
“When my dad was working as a construction worker in Libya in the 1980s, Yvonne Fletcher was shot and killed outside of the Libyan embassy in London.
“My dad was held hostage, and they held a gun to his head.
“He was allowed one phone call, and I remember him ringing my mum and singing Lionel Richie’s I Just Called to Say I Love You to her.
“That’s just the way he is. It always sticks in my mind.”