A LOVING couple are about to celebrate 75 years of happy marriage.

Ernie, 92, and Joan Keeble, 90, of Barnard Close, Vange, met in Pitsea in the 1930s and have been friends since the age of 14.

Joan said as a child she remembers Ernie offering her sweets and she would refuse until one day she decided to take one.

She said she knew they would get together. The pair tied the knot in 1940 at the now-demolished St Michael’s Church, Pitsea.

Ernie joined the army as a home guard defending the UK in 1942.

Joan remembers the day that Ernie came back from the Army. She said: “At the time I was living with my parents.

“It was about 2am in the morning and he was banging on the door it was lovely.

“The wedding was wonderful, we married on December 16 it was a nice day for December. After the wedding we went to the Railway Pub in Pitsea and had a sherry each and went home after.

“We didn’t have a posh car or anything like that, we just walked home, it wasn’t far.

“We have no photos from our wedding day because we didn’t have cameras.

“It sounds sad, I know. We had our family there may be around 12 people.

“I didn’t wear white, I wore a colourful suit with brown in it and a little brown hat. We didn’t have a honeymoon.

“We have a large family we have three sons, 13 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren. When we are all together we have five generations. I think that’s rare.”

The pair still have a long way to go to beat Karam and Kartari Chand, from Bradford, who have the longest marriage at 89 years.

On the day that Ernie and Joan got married the British RAF bombed a large industrial centre in Germany. It was the heavy and successful attack on Mannheim, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg on the night of the December 16.

Ernie added: “It feels longer than 75 years, it's a long time. On our wedding day we were there very early, the church opened at 9am and we were there by 9.30am.

“I think the secret to a long marriage is going along with each and not being selfish. We do argue from time to time, but I think it keeps the brain active.”

Did you know these traditional anniversary gifts?

50th Gold

60th Diamond

65th Blue sapphire

70th Platinum

80th Oak

85th Wine

90th Stone