A COUPLE toasting a milestone marriage say the secret to a happy life together is having lots of laughs.
Arthur and Mary Stephenson tied the knot 70 years ago and are marking their platinum wedding anniversary.
The couple met when they were just 17 at a dance at The Barnes Institute, in Whitburn, when Arthur, now 91, asked Mary, now 90, to dance.
Arthur, who was born in Whitburn, was a minesweeper in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
During leave, the couple married at the age of 20 at Whitburn Parish Church, on September 26, 1942, and Arthur returned to the Navy two days later.
He said: “I was very disappointed to have to go straight back after the wedding.
“I went off to sweep mines in Africa, Sicily, and Italy before moving on to Sardinia where we were attacked and blown up, but luckily no one was killed.
“We could each send a telegram home but all we were allowed to say was that we were OK and would be home soon.”
Mary worked in Birmingham during the war making sten gun parts before returning to South Tyneside to work as a welder and teach the trade to injured men.
She went on to form the Whitburn Art Group in the 70s, then the Whitburn History Group.
Mary said: “Whitburn has a very interesting history and there’s lots to talk about in the groups, even just over the time we’ve been married – there’s a whole lifetime in 70 years.”
The couple have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mary said: “I think it’s the way we were brought up that has kept us together all these years. We just take everything day by day.
“I was very flattered when Arthur asked me to dance all those years ago. We still love spending time together now - we have a lovely family too.
Arthur added: “We enjoy spending time together and we’re best friends as well. I think it’s very important to spend time together because it gives you the strength to keep going.”