A FORMER international swimmer is celebrating 60 years of marriage to the man she met through the sport as a teenager.

Margaret and John Sullivan first met in Newport in the late 1940s, when Margaret was swimming for Wales and John swam more casually.

She said: "We used to go round in a crowd and go down to the chip shop after club. One day he said 'I'll see you home' and it went from there.

"I was about 18 and he was 16. We were together a long time before we got engaged. He had to do his national service and I was very busy going about with swimming.

"We got engaged in 1953 when I was 22 and he was 20 and then married on September 21 1957 at St Patrick's Church in Newport.

Margaret was involved with competitive swimming until she was 20 and left college having trained as a nursery nurse before going into teaching swimming for the council in Newport.

"I did it for a long time – I was teaching swimming and lifesaving all day and then coaching in the evenings," she said.

John, meanwhile, was a design engineer at British Nylon before the couple's daughter, Angela, arrived in 1960.

They moved to Leominster in the early 1970s so John could take up a position teaching mechanics and maths at Belmont Abbey, while Margaret worked in the office at the veterinary surgery on Ryelands Road until she retired.

Over the years they have enjoyed being part of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society – Margaret as front of house and John performing on-stage.

They also remain volunteer stewards at the Courtyard, having started in the roles when the venue opened, and have enjoyed travelling since retirement.

Asked what the secret was to a long and happy marriage, Margaret said: "If we have a problem, we try to make a joke of it. It helps to release the tension. We all get a bit fraught but by turning it into a joke we can get round it. The whole family is the same so we have lots of laughs."

The couple, who have three grandchildren and two great grandchildren, with another expected this week, celebrated their anniversary by holding a charity concert at Grange Court in Leominster, raising money for Guide Dogs and Megan Baker House.