Len Thundercliffe can remember exactly where he was the moment he first clapped eyes on the girl of his dreams.
He was making his way into Southsea’s South Parade Pier on his way to attend the weekly dance when he spotted her.
‘I turned to my friend and said “See that girl? I’m going to marry her one day” – and I did,’ says Len.
‘I didn’t know Pat but I saw her as she walked up the stairs. I must have fancied her there and then. I loved dancing and so did she. We danced and just sort of clicked.’
Their romance blossomed and Pat and Len, from Fareham, were married on November 17 1951.
They’ll celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary on Thursday with a card from the Queen.
And on Friday they’ll mark the occasion with a party, just a stone’s throw from where they first met.
‘We’re going to the Beach Hotel for a party and that’s right opposite those stairs,’ adds Len, now 82. ‘I think I’ll take her across the road and we’ll have a look.’
The couple were married at St James’ Church, in Milton, Portsmouth and celebrated with family and friends.
‘The organist never turned up,’ remembers Pat, 80. ‘So Len’s brother Trevor, who played the organ and had his own band, graciously stepped in and played Here Comes The Bride.’
After settling down into married life, children Judy and Mark came along. Pat worked as a school secretary for many years, while Len was employed by Fareham Borough Council as a carpenter and joiner.
As well as sharing a love for dancing, they’re both Pompey fans and are still season ticket holders to this day. They’re the proud grandparents of James, Amy, Sophie, Tom and Jack and dote on great-grandchildren Isla, three, and one-year-old Izaak.
‘In all the years we’ve been married I don’t think we’ve ever had a serious occasion where one of us has walked away,’ adds Len. ‘We’ve got on. I don’t know where the time had gone, it’s flown by.’