A TIDWORTH couple has been overrun by flowers and cards after celebrating 60 years of marriage last week.

Ian Derek Paddock and Sheila Paddock, of Beech Hill Road, received their iconic card from the Queen in time for their anniversary on Thursday, 28 December.

The diamond couple, staunch Brighton and Hove Albion football supporters, were also greeted with a personal card and scarves from the club when they took to their season ticket seats on Monday when they played against Bournemouth.

Their milestone anniversary was also announced over the speakers to thousands of fans during the match.

The pair first bumped into each other at a dance held Assaye Barracks while Mr Paddock was in the King's Royal Rifle Corps.

Sheila said: "They used to have them every Saturday and Thursday, it was a big thing back then and it was the place to go when you were a teenager."

Mr Paddock, also known as Derek, was posted to north Wales but would regularly come back down to visit Sheila.

He said their engagement was 'spur of the moment.'

Sheila added: "We just thought it was right.

"We went to Salisbury to get the ring but he wanted to wait until the shop was empty before getting it because he was embarrassed."

They married at their local church, Holy Trinity Church, before Derek was then posted to Germany.

The 79-year-old couple, who have one son and two grandchildren, lived in married quarters for two years before moving back to the U.K.

Derek was in the army for six years before leaving so their son, Ashley, could grow up and stay in Tidworth.

He then went on to work as a yard manager for Andover Timber Company, now known as Snows Timber, for 40 years.

Mrs Paddock worked at Tidworth Church of England School as a cook for 12 years before becoming a civil servant.

The retired couple said their long marriage comes from having a lot of things in common and staying active.

Sheila said they have had a good life together and have been lucky, with Derek adding: "I think in marriage you have to work at it.

"And it's not to say we don't row, we've had our ups and downs, but you get over it, it's spur of the moment.

"You have to have fun when you get older and do silly things.

"I'm like a big kid, really, I haven't grown up.

"I joked to my friends that she won a raffle ticket and I was the booby prize."