A COUPLE who met during the final days of the Second World War are celebrating 70 years of marriage.

Gwen and Gerry Sweetman of West Stafford near Dorchester had a surprise celebration tea party to mark their platinum wedding anniversary.

Gwen, 93, and Gerry, 90, first met at an Army camp at Bridestowe on Dartmoor during the last days of the war. Gerry was a Grenadier Guard and Gwen served in the NAFFI.

They were married on September 20, 1947, at All Saints Church, Whipton, Exeter.

After demob, Gerry followed a teaching career that took him from primary school teacher in Hemel Hempstead to headmaster of Appledore Primary School and eventually to principal lecturer in educational studies and director of educational resources at Weymouth College after moving to Dorset in 1968.

He retired in 1980. Gwen also worked at Weymouth College in the library.

They had two sons, Michael and Peter. Peter moved to Dorset with his parents but sadly passed away in 2000.

The couple moved to their present home in West Stafford in 1981, following their retirement.

Michael said: "Gwen and Gerry have been involved with the local community ever since, although they have slowed down in recent years.

"However, Gerry still plays the church organ in the village church, a role he took up temporarily in 1985 until a replacement could be found!"

Michael has four children and Gwen and Gerry now have four grandchildren, ten great grandchildren and four great, great grandchildren.

Villagers in West Stafford organised a diamond anniversary celebration for the couple in 2007 to say thank you for their work in the community and villagers again joined with the family in celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary in the village hall with a surprise tea party.

Michael said: "The party went off well and was enjoyed by all. The secret was kept until the end.

"Thanks should go to Kaye Kerridge for her hard work and her lovely band of ladies who set up and served the guests of the party throughout.

"Mum and dad were presented with a bouquet of flowers, an inscribed glass vase and the surplus of very generous donations in cash."