A DEVIZES couple, who celebrate their wedding anniversary on the most romantic day of the year, today reached their 65th marriage milestone.

Ralph and Pauline Harding of Broadleas Close only got married on Valentine's day by chance but they have kept romance alive after it was love at first sight when they first met at Devizes Sports Club.

Mr Harding, 91, said: "I used to see this blonde lady on a bike come and play tennis at the sports club. I was playing hockey there and my sister, Pat, knew Pauline and introduced us.

"I try to be a romantic man. I got her a surprise gift this year."

Mrs Harding, 88, said: "I think he is romantic in his own way. We didn't plan to get married on Valentine's day but February 14 was the only Saturday available around the time we wanted. It is nice our anniversary being on that day but sometimes it can make it difficult to book hotels or restaurants."

After a four year courtship the couple married at St Mary’s Congregational Church, Northgate Street, Devizes, on February 14, 1953. They woke that morning to find a foot of snow had fallen.

After their nuptials the couple honeymooned on the Italian Riviera which was the first time either of them had been abroad.

Mrs Harding, who was a clerk at Barclays Bank in The Brittox, Devizes, said she found her husband attractive from the start. She said: “I thought Ralph was the bee’s knees.”

Mr Harding, who was born at Ivy House, Devizes, said: “I was besotted with her.”

Yesterday they celebrated their blue sapphire anniversary with a lunch with family and friends.

Mrs Harding was born in Trowbridge but moved to Devizes when she was eight as her father, Walter, was the engineer in charge of the buses for Bath Tramways and latterly Bristol Tramways.

Mr Harding worked at his parent’s farm, Manor Farm, Marston, and in 1960 he and his wife moved to Liddington Warren Farm, Upper Wanborough, which he ran with his brother, Percy. They had sheep, cattle and pigs and Mrs Harding would help out with milking and other duties as well as bringing up their four children, Mark, Stephen, Sarah and Katharine. They also have three grandchildren, Matthew, Kirstie and Emma.

When her children were older, Mrs Harding ran a kitchen hardware and vintage clothes shop in Aldbourne by the village pump.

The couple played tennis together over the years at Aldbourne Tennis Club. Mrs Harding used to coach there and Mr Harding still plays there and at Devizes Tennis Club. He played hockey for Marlborough and Wiltshire and played until he was 63.

The couple’s interests include family history and Mr Harding still volunteers at Devizes Hospital.