A Burnley couple have celebrated 60 years of marriage in style, with the captain of their cruise ship delivering a congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen to them before they toasted their diamond wedding anniversary off the coast of Portugal.
Passionate cruisers, Raymond and Barbara Park (both 80) have celebrated the 60th anniversary of their marriage on April 4th, 1959 in appropriate fashion for sea-lovers as their special day coincided with their cruise's stop-off in Lisbon having previously sailed down to Madeira and the Canary Islands.
The happy couple set sail on Tuesday March 27th on board the P&O ship Azura - one of the largest cruise ships in the P&O Cruises fleet, boasting eight restaurants and everything from dance classes and watercolour painting to theatre and live comedy - and are due back in Southampton on Sunday, April 7th.
"They've cruised with P&O for 20-odd years, usually taking in two cruises a year, so they're very well-known, and my dad said last night that he knew something was going on because nobody would tell him anything about any plans!" said the Parks' only son, Stephen (55). "So hopefully they'll make a bit of a fuss and a song and dance over them!
"My parents are Burnley born and bred, they're the real life and soul of the party," added Stephen, who lives with his partner Debbie Milburn in the Scottish Borders town of Coldstreams. "They've both got a lot of history in the town and they're very social animals."
Barbara, born on New Hall Street, worked in the Lucas Industries' switch factory, at the Co-op on St. Matthew Street, and in various local mills, while Raymond, born on Heap Street, was in the forces and also spent time working for Prudential. Both retired at the age of 55 and have since explored their love of travelling the world via the seas.
"Even though they're in their 80s, they bowl at Westfield Bowls Club, they're very active, very fit, they've got lots and lots of friends; really open people," said Stephen, who's children Amie (23) and Robbie (18) helped organise the congratulatory message from the Queen by contacting the Royal Office and putting them in touch with the Azura's captain.
"My dad's got some tales to tell: he used to swim and dive for the forces and ran the London Marathon in 1991 for the Nelson Club Scouts," Stephen added of his parents, who currently live on Ottoburn Grove. "They're just a really great couple."