DEVOTED couple Edward and Betty Rivers have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary – more than 60 years after she stood him up on their first date.

Despite the rocky start, the couple, who have lived in the borough all their lives, have enjoyed six decades of marriage and now have three great-grandchildren.

Betty, 80, explained: “I was working in Woolworths in Basingstoke when I first met Edward in 1951. I was 17 years old. He came in on a Saturday afternoon, with a lot of cheek.”

The pair agreed to meet for a date outside the Savoy cinema, at the bottom of Wote Street, but Betty failed to show up.

She said: “I was seeing two fellows at the time, and I didn’t turn up. But he came back to the shop and I agreed to go out with him again. I made the right choice in the end.”

Edward, 84, said: “We have a very good marriage. I always tell her I love her – I think that’s important.”

They wed in St Michael’s Church, in Basingstoke, three years after they first met but did not go on a honeymoon. Edward bought a bike as a wedding present for his new bride.

After a spell living in a caravan in the garden of Betty’s mother’s house, in Ramsdell, the couple bought their first home and their daughter, Karen, was born in 1959.

Betty, of Swains Road, Tadley, said: “She is a daughter in a million. We are very lucky.”

The couple have two grandchildren – Zoe, 31, and Simon, 22 – and three great-grandchildren aged between 10 months and seven.

They keep active and Edward, a former bricklayer, paint sprayer and supervisor, still works at Bishopswoods Infant School, Barlows Road, part-time, helping out with the kids club.

Betty, who worked at Eli Lilly, enjoys gardening, going on holidays and spending time with family and friends.

She said: “We have a good life and we are always there for each other. Hopefully we will be celebrating 70 years of marriage in 10 years.”