FOR Val and Rod Sperring it has been a lifelong relationship as best friends as they prepare to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.

The Chippenham couple said they have a chemistry that has bonded them as soul mates from the beginning when they first met at the Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company in Chippenham back in 1952.

Rod was an apprentice engineer at the vast factory in the town and was still a teenager when he plucked up the courage to asks typist Valerie out on a date.

“We planned to go to the cinema,” said Valerie, “but on the way out the news came out that King George VI had died and the cinema closed its doors.

“So instead we went to a coffee bar for our first date.”

Rod had started at the manufacturer of railway signalling equipment soon after the war in 1949. Born in 1932 one of two boys in Corsham his father and later his brother ran Pickwick Garage in the town. However Rod didn’t join the family firm but instead worked for Westinghouse and later left to do his National Service, posted to Jordan and Egypt with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) where his engineering background was put to use.

Back in civvy street he was again with Westinghouse began ‘walking out’ with Valerie.

An engagement followed and they got hitched at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Chippenham on April 18, 1959, he in his best suit and Valerie in a princess line gown with a high neck, illusion lace detail and full length sleeves.

“We had our honeymoon in Torquay,” said Rod, “motoring down to Devon via Dartmoor in my Morris 8.

“We went everywhere in that car, Studland in Dorset and Hayling Island for holidays.”

The American Army prior to D-Day had occupied part of the old Hardenhuish estate and after the war the land was taken on by the council and some of it sold in lots for building.

Rod was one of the first to buy a plot for £500, and had a bungalow built on it for approximately £3,000.

It was to be their home as they had a family of three children of Christopher, Vanessa and Philippa who later produced their grandchildren of Kieran, Adam, Jonathan, Joe and Abigail.