As romantic gestures go, Harrogate couple Ken and Inge Little will be difficult to beat.
Sixty years after they tied the knot at Ealing Registry office, Mr and Mrs Little will be spending this Valentine’s Day celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary with friends and neighbours from the street where they have lived for 40 years.
Mr Little, who is 91, met his future wife, now 88, at her family’s Springfield Restaurant in Acton in 1951.
Ken and his three work mates from a nearby factory would visit the restaurant for lunch everyday, where a table was always ready for them.
“It was always busy, but there was a table reserved for us. We always had steak and chips – even when it wasn’t on the menu steak would come out for us,” Mr Little said.
And Mrs Little, who was a waitress at the restaurant at the time, would save the best pieces of chocolate gateau for the handsome young men, they added.
They got engaged in 1952 - the year King George VI died and Elizabeth II became Queen – and were married in 1953 – the year of the Queen’s coronation.
Their wedding day was on Valentine’s Day, and snow fell around them and their guests, Mrs Little said.
“I chose February 14 so Ken could never forget the date,” she added.
After they were married the couple took a four day honeymoon near Glastonbury in Somerset, before moving in to their first home together in Southall, Middlesex.
Two daughters Ruth and Karen were born in Middlesex in 1955 and 1961, before Mr Little’s work as an aircraft engineer brought the family to Harrogate in 1971.
Mrs Little said: “I felt terrible when we first came here. In Southall I knew I couldn’t go out of the front door without meeting someone I knew, but here I didn’t know anyone.”
But they soon threw themselves into life in Harrogate, and are now well known in the town through their involvement in the Talking Newspaper, Harrogate Dramatic Society, Harrogate Golf Club and from founding both the male and female Probus branches in the town.
Mrs Little, originally from Dotrmund in Germany arrived in England as an escapee from Hitler just before war broke out, and lived with her mother and brother in Great Yarmouth until they had to move away.
“Even friendly aliens, which we were, weren’t allowed to stay near the coast,” Mrs Little said.
The secret of their long marriage is, Mr and Mr Little said, “be happy”.
“We have a wonderful family, and many friends who are like family to us now,” Mrs Little added.
With three grandsons and two granddaughters, as well as three great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters, Mr and Mrs Little were joined by many members of the family to celebrate the weekend before their landmark anniversary.