A COUPLE died within hours of each other while celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary.

Brian and Betty Eckersley were marking 50 years of married life with a holiday in Majorca.

But tragedy struck when, on the day they were due to travel home, Mrs Eckersley suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage and Mr Eckersley had a massive heart attack.

Medics on the island were unable to save the couple, both aged 72, leaving the family who had travelled with them heartbroken.

Daughter, Carol Cutler, said: "In all the days they were married my parents had not spent a day apart. They got engaged before my dad went off to his National Service, and married when he returned. Their story is just so romantic. These days stories like this are rarely heard of.

"What happened came as such a shock to everybody. My mother was not ill, and, although contracted cancer two-and-half-years-ago, it didn't stop him from doing anything. Even in death they were never apart."

Mr and Mrs Eckersley, from The Crescent in Radcliffe, had celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on June 22.

They booked a holiday to Magaluf to extend the celebrations and were joined by daughter Carol, and their grandchildren Adam, aged 19, and Charlotte, aged 16.

The tragic events unfolded on Tuesday the 17 of July at the end of their seven-day stay.

Mrs Eckersley suffered a brain haemorrhage on Monday evening and was taken to hospital where she was put on a life support machine. The day after, Mr Eckersley had a fatal heart attack while at the hospital. At noon the same day, his wife's life support machine was turned off.

Mrs Cutler, who is now back at home in Lowercroft, near Bury, with her children, said: "My dad had said just hours before that he would not return home without my mum. "They both died on the same day, which was also my dad's birthday. He simply could not live without her.

"We are such a close knit family and my parents really were an inspiration. They were kind and generous and would do anything for anyone.They had so many friends, I have been visited and contacted by so many people who they knew."

Mr Eckersley, a former Stand Grammar School pupil, was well known in Radcliffe and was president of Radcliffe Cricket Club where he was an honorary member. He was also a regular at Little Lever Working Men's Club and spent most of his working life in insurance.

His wife attended Radcliffe Secondary Modern and worked at Bury-based McPherson Paints.

The two met at a dance hall and married at St Thomas' Church in Radcliffe. On retirement they spent their time travelling around Europe, enjoying two trips a year as well as looking after their grandchildren.

Mr Eckersley was a keen supporter of Manchester City, and took first his daughter and then his grandson to see the team play.

Funeral arrangements are being finalised but it is expected a service will be held at St Andrew's Church in Radcliffe followed by a burial at Radcliffe Cemetery.