A WELL-known Royal Wootton Bassett couple, Chris and Audrey Wannell, both former mayors of Wootton Bassett, celebrated their golden wedding last weekend, with a party for family and friends.

They were married on September 23, 1967, at St Bartholomew & All Saints Church, where Audrey (nee Bird) was a bellringer for more than 50 years, and has trained others in this ancient art. She is an honorary member of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers.

She was the eldest of five children in her family, spent her childhood in Coxstalls and was educated at the Council School before the town had a secondary school. As a school leaver, she worked at Garrards, in Swindon, making gramophones, and became a training instructor. In later years she assisted at Old Court Community Pre-school and was chairman of governors at Longleaze School.

Chris, who spent his early years in Chippenham, was apprenticed as an engineer at Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company and was a retained fireman in Chippenham before joining the full-time fire service in 1966. He served until 1978, went to work at the dairy in Wootton Bassett, as a bottling plant fitter, and later became Environmental Affairs manager. He joined the retained fire service at Wootton Bassett and was Station Officer for three of his 32 years' service.

Fire engine restoration is the couple's major shared interest and they have a 1943 Austin 60ft turntable ladder, a 1937 Leyland Cub Major pump (which spent 50 years at the Cape Hill Brewery in Smethwick) and a 1959 Commer Carrier water tender.

Mr and Mrs Wannell's first home after their marriage was a flat above Wiltshires supermarket (now Occasions) in the High Street. In May 1968 they settled happily in their present house at Nore Marsh Road. They have a daughter, Heather, son Martin and four grandchildren, aged 21 to 7.

Chris Wannell was a founder member of the town carnival committee in 1971, with former colleagues John Frankins, John Scott and Don Gough, now all deceased, and Mrs Oonagh Lilley. Audrey and Chris spent hours making bunting for that carnival. In 1973 he took part in a Best in the West television programme on HTV.

During more than 75 years of combined service in local government, both have served twice as mayor of Wootton Bassett: Chris from 1985-86 and 2005-2006, and Audrey from 1999-2000 and 2007-2008. Chris was chairman of the amenities committee when a popular local leisure area became Jubilee Lake, and he also chaired the town's Diamond Jubilee committee.

Mr and Mrs Wannell took over the organisation of the popular local Bassett in Bloom event from the council many years ago, and continued to run this friendly competition with colleagues from the town until this year, when they have handed over to Robert Anstee, a town councillor with a keen interest in gardens.

They have retired from official duties, and are relishing more time with their their family and leisure interests.

A magnificent golden wedding cake, made by their daughter, and decorated by Liz Eastgate, was adorned with images of the family's fire engines, and mini-firefighters.

Guests drank a toast to the couple, and Mr Wannell raised a glass in tribute to his wife, of whom he said: "She is wonderful!"