CHRISTMAS will be an extra-special celebration this year for Ledbury couple Maurice and Hazel Harding, because they have a 60th wedding anniversary to celebrate.

The couple, who live in Saxon Way, actually celebrated their silver wedding anniversary on Thursday, December 21, while looking forward to next year, in which they will both turn eighty.

And the adventure all started with a chance meeting on ice.

Their daughter, Lynne Nugent said: "Mum and Dad met when they were fifteen at Streatham ice rink. Dad impressed Mum with his Mitcham Air Cadets uniform and the fact he boxed successfully until he was 22.

"Dad joined the police in 1954 and they married on December 21, 1957 in Mitcham. As children, they had both been evacuated to the country from London. Hazel’s father was killed just before she was two years old. He had been a fireman in the Blitz in London."

Mrs Nugent added: "When they were first married, aged 19, they lived in the next door neighbour’s house, having the top floor. They had two children while living at Laing’s corner, Mitcham – Paul and myself. They moved to Balham, Hanworth then Twickenham before moving to Cradley."

In the police force, Mr Harding had a very interesting career, including high-level involvement in the infamous Kray case. The Krays were violent East End gangsters, during the 1960s.

Mrs Nugent said: "Dad was a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan police where, covering many cases, including the Kray twins, he was the armed protection officer for the Kray twin’s cousin.

"Mum was the director of a firm manufacturing light switches."

Mr and Mrs Harding moved to Cradley in 1983 and bought the Red Lion pub, which they ran for four years.

Mrs Nugent said: "Dad then worked for six years as a chimney sweep before moving to Ledbury where Dad volunteered for the Ledbury Town Council for five years, where he was chairman of planning.

"They also did meals on wheels for ten years. Dad was a community bus driver and mum was a buddy reader at John Masefield."

The couple have two children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.