A RIBBLE Valley couple who were childhood friends have celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary together.

Ribchester couple Fred and Alicia Smith, 93, were married at St Stephen’s Church, Little Harwood, 70 years ago and marked the day with their family.

The pair first met at Moss Street School in Blackburn in the 1930s before Fred joined Northrop Mill in the town as a loom maker.

Alicia, who was born in Blackburn, worked for The Co-op Laundry Shop in Clayton-le-Moors after attending Blakey Moor School.

Fred, who was born in Manchester, was called up to the army in 1944 and served in the Royal Armoured core, the First King’s Dragoons as a tank driver and engineer.

He served in Egypt during the war before being demobbed in 1947.

After the war, Fred returned to his old job before moving to Bury to run a factory. Shortly after, the pair opened a baby clothes shop in Whalley Range, Blackburn, which Alicia ran full-time, before moving to Ribchester 49 years ago.

The couple, who live in Chester Brook, have two children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with a sixth due on June 21.

Fred said: “I suppose the secret of our success has been being active together.

“We danced, cycled and swam together for as long as we could.

“We are still best friends and we help each other as much as we can.

“We enjoy our time together very much.

“Alicia sat behind me through our time at school together.

“And we were friends from the start.”

The couple received their third congratulatory card from the Queen on their anniversary after being sent one in 2004 and again in 2009. Their daughter, Janis Whitlock, 57, said: “It has been great to have had them around when my children and grandchildren have been growing up.

“I’m very lucky to still have parents at my age because a lot of people don’t.

“They are a lovely couple and they are always together. They are inseparable really.

“Apart from when dad used to play snooker at the club once a week.

“They have always been there for my children, which has been amazing and they have helped out when they could.

“They first met at junior school and haven’t looked back since.”