A SPECIAL couple are celebrating 65 happy years of marriage today.
Don and Margaret Gillis tied the knot after falling in love at a dance in South Shields.
The couple, who live in Summerhill Road, South Shields, said ‘I do’ on Mrs Gillis’s 20th birthday, and they are also celebrating her 85th birthday today.
They first met at a dance at the Mission to Seafarers, in Mill Dam, South Shields, the couple were just 15.
Five years later, they were married at St Mary’s Church, in Tyne Dock. The milestone 65th wedding anniversary is represented by blue sapphire.
Mr Gillis, 86, served in the Merchant Navy from 1944 until 1951, when he left the service to spend more time at home. He went on to work as a firefighter in South Shields for 29 years.
Mrs Gillis began working in Marks & Spencer – which stood in King Street until recently – when she was 14. She worked until the couple had three children, William, Margaret and Susan, before going back part time. They also have four grand-daughters, three great-grandsons and two great-grand-daughters.
Mr Gillis said: “I knew Margaret from the Mission to Seafarers. One night, one of her friends was having a party but didn’t know any boys so Margaret came to the Mission to ask if we would all go along.
“Shortly after that came my first time away at sea, and I was gone for 10 months. When I got back I looked her up – I went to Marksies to find her.
“I think we’ve stayed together all these years because we love each other and all we have ever wanted is each other. We’ve been great together.
“Being at sea and being away for so long was hard and that’s why I left, but I always used to look forward to coming home to see Margaret and showing up at the shop.
“The secret is understanding each other and giving help when it’s needed, and to just be happy.”
The couple will be celebrating with a meal at Orangegrass, in South Shields.