THEY WERE married in the year work started on Britain's first full-length motorway and cinemagoers were introduced to the Carry On films.

Hampshire couple Bill and Vera Irvine are today celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary after meeting in a New Forest pub in the 1950s.

Bill, 81, grew up in Portsmouth but was evacuated to Netley Marsh in 1939 to avoid the bombing raids his father knew were inevitable.

He remained in the area, becoming an apprentice carpenter/joiner at Ashurst-based builders E H Lagdon.

In 1956 he was visiting the Sir Walter Tyrrell pub in Brook when he met his future wife.

Two years later they were married at St Peter's Church, Bramshaw, which contains a plaque bearing the names of local men who perished in the Titanic disaster.

Their reception was held at the nearby Bramble Hill Hotel.

In 1959 they moved to Ashurst Bridge Road in nearby Netley Marsh, where they still live.

Vera, 87, was born in Southampton but grew up in Nomansland, going to schools in the area before finding work in Salisbury.

Following her marriage she was employed at the Percy Hendy car dealership in Palmerston Road, Southampton.

Later she worked as a dinner lady at Foxhills Junior School in Ashurst. She also helped out at the former Stocklands care home in Calmore and the Farm House Rest Home in Totton.

Bill was called up for National Service in the 1950s and was based at Liverpool docks after joining the Royal Engineers.

He later became a construction site manager and worked on a variety of buildings including Chawton House, once the home of Jane Austen's brother Edward.

He is now among more than 2,000 volunteers with the National Coastwatch Institution, which helps save lives by keeping a look out for overturned boats, distress flares and other signs of sailors in trouble.

The couple have a son, Nigel, and a 13-year-old grand-daughter, Ettianne.

Nigel said: "We're really proud of Bill and Vera - 60 years of marriage is such a special celebration. We're all looking forward to toasting their happy and successful union and wish them many more years together.

But the celebrations will be tinged with sadness following the death last year of their daughter Alison, 48.

Nigel added: "Alison will be in our thoughts as we drink to mum and dad to mark their anniversary."