THIS week Brian and Marlene Matthews will be celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary - but due to the coronavirus pandemic the couple will be celebrating with a night in.

Brian, 82, and Marlene, 81, were due to celebrate their landmark anniversary at a special meal with family and friends but plans had to be cancelled due to current restrictions.

Instead they will enjoy a quiet evening at home in Wembdon on Thursday, October 22 - 60 years to the day since they wed in 1960.

Both Brian and Marlene have lived in Somerset for many years and met in 1954 when they went to a dance at the former Co-op hall in West Quay.

“I wasn’t planning on going out that night,” Brian said.

“My next door neighbour knocked on my door and told me that he wanted to go dancing and asked me to go along with him.

“I said no at first as I wasn’t really in the mood to go but he persuaded me as he didn’t want to go on his own.

“I ended up going there and having a bit of a dance and then I just saw Marlene from across the room and that was that.”

The couple married at St Mary’s Church in Bridgwater on October 22, 1960 but Marlene said making sure the wedding was held there was not plain sailing.

“At the time you had to be residing in a place to get married there, you couldn’t just walk into a church and get married,” Marlene said.

“So I took a suitcase over to a stranger’s house and left it there to show that I was staying there and then we were allowed to get married at the church.”

After they married Brian and Marlene settled in Wedmore and had two children.

The couple now also have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In 1972 Brian and Marlene set up a printing business called Kampress in Bridgwater which was a huge success and employed staff from across Bridgwater.

The couple expanded their business over the years and decided to sell the firm and retire in 2003 after 31 years in business.

“We still see some of our old customers when we are walking around Bridgwater now which is lovely,” Marlene said.

“They are like friends to us and we always stop and say hello to them.”

As they enter their seventh decade of marriage the pair have reflected on what their secrets to a long and happy marriage are.

“We have a good laugh together, I think that’s the most important thing,” Marlene said.

“We have both had such interesting lives and we have travelled to some wonderful places. We’ve been very lucky.

“Our children and grandchildren have kept us young too and have been especially helpful during lockdown.

“They have been a fantastic support to us during these difficult times.”