A BOLTON couple have celebrated 70 years of marriage with a congratulatory message from the Queen.

Thomas, 92, and Eleanor Bleakley, 90, met through friends in Farnworth in the late 1940s. Eleanor, originally from Bolton, wrote to Thomas while he was away completing his National Service. The pair married on his return.

Thomas worked as a commissioning engineer for B&F Carter in Waterloo Street, Bolton for most of his working life. He could often be seen racing with the Bolton Harriers, or running to and from work.

He was also a prominent member of ‘The Oddfellows’ friendly society, becoming Grand Master at the Leigh and District branch.

Eleanor was very multiskilled, working in the mills and the Haberdashery department at Whitakers department store before quitting work to care for her three children.

Seventy years on, and the couple are still very much in love. Their daughter, Janet Colehouse, said: “We went out for a meal on Sunday and they sat on the sofa holding hands afterwards.

Janet believes the secret to her parents’ marriage is patience and support. She said: “Dad is quite extroverted, and mum’s very patient with him. They have a good relationship and have always been there for each other. It’s very sweet to see them together. They’re lovely parents.”

The last 70 years have not always been easy for the Bleakleys. Their son, Robert, died in 1980 due to a brain tumour at the age of 20.

Janet tried to convince her parents to move to Lincolnshire after their oldest son, Stephen, also died at his home in Farnworth in 2010.

The pair were reluctant to leave their home in Finch Avenue, but after 44 years in the street, they agreed to move closer to family. The couple moved to Heckington in 2014, 10 minutes away from Janet, and enjoy meeting her, their three grandchildren, and their two great-grandchildren for lunch and shopping trips.