FIVE generations of the same family got together to mark a Ribble Valley couple’s 70 years of marriage.

Donald and Irene Whatmough celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary on New Year’s Day with their two children, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.

Irene, 91, who was born in Billington, first saw Donald when he was taking part in a Sunday School procession in his home town of Newhay and said to her cousin that he would ‘make someone a nice husband one day’.

The former Ribblesdale High School pupil married Donald at St Thomas’ Church in Newhay in 1944 while he was on leave from the Royal Navy.

Retired engineer Donald, 88, joined the navy in 1943 and took part in the invasion of southern France and was in Singapore when it surrendered at the end of Second World War.

He was demobbed in 1946 after travelling the equivalent of 12 times around the world and became an engineer, a job that saw the couple move 23 times around the country.

The couple settled in their bungalow in Station Road, Whalley, in 2000 after living in Hapton, Barrow, Clitheroe, Grindleton and Padiham, among others.

Donald said: “The secret to our marriage has been communication.

“When we do fall out we always make sure that we make up before we go to bed in the evening.

“We have always talked to each other about our problems and disagreements.

“We have really enjoyed being together for the last 70 years and we are best friends.

Irene said: “We have had our ups and downs but we have always been there for each other.

“It was good to have someone else to lean on when our son, Alan, died suddenly from a heart attack eight years ago.”

The family gathered at The Bayley Arms Hotel in Hurst Green to mark the day, which was also attended by Clitheroe mayor, Kevin Horkin and Irene’s bridesmaid, Maureen Nicholson.