IT’S been 50 years in the making, but for one East Lancashire couple, plans to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary have unfortunately been put on hold for a little while longer.

John and Shirley Pilkington, from Whalley, were due to mark 50 years of marriage today, but their plans for a gathering with family and friends, many of whom were at their wedding in 1970, have been scuppered, thanks to the coronavirus crisis.

Mr and Mrs Pilkington had organised a meal at Ferrari’s restaurant in Longridge, but because of lockdown, they are having to celebrate with relatives from across the country via video call.

Daughter Fiona Pilkington said: “Mum and dad first met in the belfry of Clitheroe Parish Church, where they subsequently married, and bellringing has played a major role in their married life ever since.

“They continue to ring at Whalley Parish Church where dad has been the tower captain since they moved to the village to start their married life.

“They enjoy ‘grabbing’ towers across the county and are very involved in the local branch of the Lancashire Association of Church Bellringers.”

Throughout their marriage Mr and Mrs Pilkington have served their local church, where over the years they have been part of the Parochial Church Council.

Mrs Pilkington, 76, has volunteered as a pastoral assistant and treasurer and worked as parish secretary for many years, while Mr Pilkington, 81, is the churchwarden.