A diamond couple return to the school where they first met for an anniversary surprise

Gordon and Annis Tonkinson celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this week, by returning to the primary school where they first met sat together when they were just five and six years old.

Children at Sheriffhales Primary School turned out on the playground to give homemade cards to the couple and sing songs about marriage to them. Two of the pupils dressed a bride and groom and the school's head, Sarah Hodgson as a bridesmaid to shower them with confetti.

Mr and Mrs Tonkinson said it was a wonderful pick-me-up after the disappointment of being unable to have a party.

Still a governor at the school Mr Tonkinson, 82, said the two met there in the midst of the second world war, aged five and six but then he had lots of time away suffering from tuberculosis and knee.

When I came back when I was six or seven, Annis used to help me with my maths and I helped her with technical drawing.

"We were milk monitors together and the best of friends."

Mrs Tonkinson, 83, said she had been a tomboy and Gordon and his friends would let her play football with them.

There was a prisoner-of-war came close by and both remember going there to watch the films put on for the German and Italian prisoners.

"It then became a camp for displaced people, mainly for people from eastern Europe displaced by the Russians and we would spent time there. There were incredible footballers," Mr Tonkinson said.

The pair were among the first to go on to the under construction Shifnal Modern School.

"At the time children would normally stay at the village school until they were 14 and then leave. I remember we had a strike because we didn't want to go to the new school."

Within six months Annis moved onto the Walker Technical College - and Gordon, who became head boy, turned his attention to the head girl at Shifnal.

But the pair remained friends and as teenagers went to dances together most weekends.

Mrs Tonkinson said: "We had been to a Miss Sheriffhales dance and it was at the end of the night that Gordon asked if I would be his official girlfriend."

A talented sportsman he went onto the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers , playing for the junior teams for about five years.

"Sadly my brother became ill on the farm and passed away and I had to return to help the family."

The couple were married in the village church in 1960, had their reception in the village hall next to the school and then caught a train to London for a five day honeymoon. They found themselves enjoying an impromptu party in the carriage.

"Annis is an Arsenal supporter and of course I support Wolves. The day of our wedding they had faced each other in a match and Arsenal one. The Arsenal supporters were on the same train as us - they gave us seats and shared their food with us it was wonderful," Mr Tonkinson said.

They returned to the farm and lives for a time in a caravan on the land.

Mrs Tonkinson worked in an office in Shifnal then Oakengates before running the local garage for 43 years, eventually retiring at the age of 81.

"She also helped with everything on the farm from lambing to milking cows, she was wonderful," her husband said.

The couple have two daughters, Maria and Dawn, and a son, Tom as well as six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

They still live in the farm where Mr Tonkinson was born and have played a huge part in the local community.

Mr Tonkinson is still a parish and town councillor and was also a Shropshire County Councillor and in its time a Bridgnorth District councillor.

"We have had an amazing time and have always remained friends. And the adventure isn't over yet," Mr Tonkinson said.

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