A couple whose eyes met across a crowded dance floor are today celebrating 60 years of marriage.
It was love at first sight for Alan and Ruth Hepplewhite when they met at Jean Heilbron Dance Academy.
When we were married, you married for life. You stuck with it.Ruth Hepplewhite
The couple courted for a year before they announced their engagement. A year after that they were married at St Peter’s Church in Harton, South Shields.
Even then, snow covered the ground on their wedding day.
Mr Hepplewhite, 82, said: “I had been to the dance a few times before Ruth came.
“When I saw her, I said to my mate, ‘that’s the one I’m going to take home tonight’.
“It was love at first sight.”
The couple lived in North Close, before finally saving enough money for a place they could call their own in Whitehall Street.
They went on to have two sons, David and Brian, and spent time living in Northumberland after the closure of Harton Colliery, where Mr Hepplewhite was a miner.
He went on to work as a handyman for the Hunter residence, while his wife, who was a doctor’s receptionist, carried out household duties.
Mrs Hepplewhite said: “We have had quite a journey and we have done a lot of things.
“Alan has always wanted to go see the Grand Canyon, so we did for our 40th wedding anniversary.”
The couple moved back to South Tyneside in their 60s, finally settling at the Aged Miners Cottages in South Shields.
When asked their secret to a long and happy marriage, Mrs Hepplewhite said: “When we were married, you married for life. You stuck with it.
“Life hasn’t always been a bed of roses, but we have brought up two lads successfully, and worked hard for what we got.
The couple will be celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary with family and friends at the Little Haven Hotel in South Shields.