AN ANDOVER couple who initially had to keep their courtship a secret are now celebrating 50 years of marriage.

Brian and Jacky Hutchins, of Salisbury Road, first met while they were both serving in the army in Germany.

Mr Hutchins, a corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at the time, first clapped eyes on Jacky while they in the same hospital in Rinteln, near Hanover.

Mr Hutchins said: "I was in military hospital having my tonsils out, which was causing me some distress, and Jacky was the night nurse.

"I wrote to Jacky afterwards to thank her for her care and said in the letter that in other circumstances I would take her out for a drink.

"And she said I decide who my friends are, not the army, but we kept it under wraps for a bit over a year, yes, a secret courtship really.

"Really for most of the time only one of our friends on each side knew."

They were not together long before Mr Hutchins proposed with him adding: "It just seemed the right thing."

The golden couple married in St Peter's Church, Lee, London and stayed at the Strand Palace Hotel for their honeymoon.

As they had married on 27 December, nothing was open and one trip included walking around a fish market.

After they were married Mrs Hutchins had to resign her commission due to certain army regulations at the time.

Due to Mr Hutchins's job they travelled all over the world, including Hong Kong, the USA and briefly in Paris.

Mr Hutchins, who had risen through the ranks and was now an officer, had been sent to Paris for a three year posting.

They had only been in the city for around three months before he was promoted.

Within six months they were moved back to Andover with Mrs Hutchins adding: "It was the worst promotion he had, being taken away from Paris!"

At one point the pair had lived in 28 houses in 25 years of marriage.

To celebrate the milestone anniversary they went to Disneyland, California before joining a cruise that took them down to Mexico.

After organising a private dinner their waitress brought out a cake with a candle and sang 'Happy Anniversary' to the tune of 'Happy Birthday.'