Leamington teenage sweethearts who first laid eyes on each other in the early 1950s have yesterday celebrated 60 years of marriage.
Pat and Tom Astell say that from the moment they met in January 1953, aged 15 and 17 respectively, they knew it was “love at first sight”.
Unfortunately the young couple had to be separated shortly after meeting, as Tom was called up for national service - but the teenagers kept in touch and spent as much time together as they could when Tom was able to come back to Leamington on leave.
Three years after their relationship began, Pat and Tom were married at St Mark’s church in Leamington, when Pat was just 18 and Tom 20, on February 4, 1956.
On leaving national service, Tom re-enlisted into the army as a professional soldier and carried on to reach the rank of Sargent after 22 years’ service.
The couple enjoyed travelling around the UK and Europe on many military postings, including in France, Cyprus and Germany.
They brought up three daughters - Philippa, Cindy and Melanie - and a son, Andrew, who followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military. The couple now also have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
After Tom retired from the army, he and Pat returned to south Warwickshire, and he spent some years working for Warwick District Council, before taking his retirement.
The couple, who live in Whitnash, enjoy an active lifestyle, going swimming three times a week and can frequently be found dancing in the Dun Cow pub in Warwick.