CHILDHOOD sweethearts who met when they were just 14 years old are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary tomorrow (Thursday). John and Peggy Gunnell, both 81, of Middlefield Road, Sawtry, were married at St Peter s Church in Rickmansworth, Hertfo

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CHILDHOOD sweethearts who met when they were just 14 years old are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary tomorrow (Thursday).

John and Peggy Gunnell, both 81, of Middlefield Road, Sawtry, were married at St Peter's Church in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, on February 8, 1947.

Despite meeting at such a tender age, Mr Gunnell told The Hunts Post he always knew Peggy was the girl for him. He said: "I had other girlfriends but Peggy was my first true love. As I got to know her more closely, I realised she was the one."

Mr Gunnell proposed while on leave from the army, days before he was posted to India for two years during World War II. Mrs Gunnell, who also helped with the war effort by working in a munitions factory in St Albans, said: "It was hard being away from John for so long but we wrote to each other three times a week."

The couple married when Mr Gunnell returned from India, during the harsh winter. "The wedding cars couldn't get through the snow so we all had to pile into a taxi to get to the reception. It was definitely an experience but it didn't spoil the day," said Mrs Gunnell.

After the war Mr Gunnell took a job as a lorry driver and Peggy worked as a shop assistant. The couple moved to Sawtry in 1990 and now run a sequence dancing club at Sawtry Old School Hall on a Wednesday night.

Their wedding anniversary has always been marked in a unique way. For their silver anniversary they battled against power cuts to hold a party (while the miners' strike was in full flow), and for their golden anniversary they were invited with hundreds of other couples to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's own golden wedding anniversary. Mrs Gunnell said: "It was marvellous, we had a lovely time and the Queen even said good afternoon to us."

This anniversary Mr and Mrs Gunnell, who have two children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild, are holding a family party at the Admiral Wells in Holme on Saturday.

After 60 years of marriage the diamond couple say they are still very much in love. Mr Gunnell said: "We have always got on really well and I put it down to give and take. It doesn't seem like 60 years and I couldn't imagine my life without Peggy.