A couple who have been married for 71 years have said the secret to a successful marriage is to love each other - and to always back down when arguing with your wife.

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Ernest and Annie Rutterford, who live in East Carleton, celebrated their wedding anniversary on Thursday.

They first met in 1937 when Mrs Rutterford was going to the cinema and Mr Rutterford was leaving. They became friends and spent three and a half years dating before they married in Nordelph, near Downham Market.

They married on January 31, 1942, when Mr Rutterford, 95, was on leave for a few days.

“When we first met, he worked at RAF Marham. I didn’t find it difficult being apart. We were kept busy because there was a war on,” Mrs Rutterford, 92, said. “I wore a white dress and a veil for our wedding and there was fresh snow on the ground.”

Mr Rutterford worked in the air forced for 22 years while Mrs Rutterford worked on a farm, before leaving to have children.

Their son, Colin, 69, lives in Reydon, near Southwold and their daughter, Janet Vincent, 63, lives in Harleston.

The couple, who have five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, moved to south Norfolk 24 years ago where they lived in British Legion sheltered accommodation in Harleston.

“I would miss her if she left,” Mr Rutterford said. “The secret to a happy marriage is loving each other. You have to work at it.

“I always give in when we argue.”

They spent their special day with their daughter, surrounded by a card from the Queen, flowers and a cake from the care home.

Mrs Vincent said: “They have been the best parents possible. We had a very happy childhood and would go on holiday to Great Yarmouth.

“We weren’t able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary last year because my dad was in hospital, he was quite poorly.

“I have got her wedding dress at home. Her wedding band was the last gold ring left in the shop and they didn’t have a cake - there was a war on.”

They moved to Carleton House care home, near Mulbarton, last May.

“They really like it here, they are very well looked after,” Mrs Vincent added.

Do you know a couple who have been married longer? Contact Lucy Wright on 01603 772439 or email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk

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