Sheringham couple celebrate platinum wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day

For many couples today is the romantic highlight of their year, but for one duo from Sheringham this Valentine's Day is extra special.

Graham Long and his wife Nellie, known by all as Penny, not only celebrate their wedding anniversary, but today commemorates 70 years of marriage for them.

Originally from Shropshire, 91-year-old Mr Long first met his wife thanks to an accident during a visit to family in Wales in 1937.

'I had a cycling accident on my bicycle and had to stay in hospital to recover,' he said.

'Penny was a member of the church committee and she visited me there to give me money to buy stamps to keep in touch with people at home.'

They remained friends but soon their relationship blossomed and the couple married in 1942 at Bassaleg Church in Newport, south Wales. Mrs Long, 95, of Orchard Close, said they had originally planned to marry in October 1941 but the village was too badly bombed.

'We eventually settled on Valentine's day,' she said. 'Even then there was a lot of damage to the village.'

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Shortly after their wedding Mr Long had to return to his second world war duties as a wireless operator and air gunner in the Royal Air Force. Six weeks later his heavy bomber from 102 squadron was shot down in a raid. He said: 'It was every man for himself, so we had to save our own lives using parachutes to jump out of the aircraft.'

He was then captured by German soldiers and spent three years as a prisoner of war.

Mrs Long said: 'I didn't see him during that whole time. One of the highlights of our marriage is when he returned home on VE Day - he said he never wanted to leave the countryside again.'

Mr Long was rewarded for his war-time efforts and became a member of the Caterpillar Club - an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin - which Mr Long still proudly wears.

After the war the couple went on to have two daughters, Carolyn, 63, and Denyse, 58, and Mr Long worked as a financial systems manager for British Airways while Mrs Long worked as a secretary.

They moved to Norfolk 30 years ago to be closer to their family, including two granddaughters Louisa, 33 and Libby, 30, and great-granddaughters Hermione, four, and Annabelle, two.

In a twist to their love-story their eldest daughter also celebrates her 42nd wedding anniversary to husband Alan Coggs, today.

The couple put the secret of their success down to 'good health and good fortune'.

Mrs Long added: 'We also always solve our problems instead of pushing them aside.'

They will mark their platinum wedding anniversary by getting their marriage blessed at their home today, where they will be joined by the only remaining relatives who were at their wedding, their nephew Allan Parsons and wife Sue.

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