A BROMSGROVE couple, who started their relationship as pen pals during the Second World War, will next week celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

Charles and Sheila Howes, both aged in their 90s, attended the same school in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, but became friends as teenagers while working together at a Co-operative department store.

On their first impressions of one another, Sheila said: "He was very annoying. We used to go to the cinema with our friends after work and Charles would always be playing pranks on the girls when the lights were out.

"Then he joined the marine forces during the war. We'd write to each other, and when he came home for a month we got to know each other a bit better.

"We didn't have much time together before that."

The pair got engaged once the war had ended, in 1947, and married the following year at the local methodist church.

The Howes went on to have three daughters, the oldest of which is now 63 years old, before moving to Bromsgrove three decades ago.

Their second child, now 57, was born on the same day Charles opened his own soft furnishings store, Franklins, in Halesowen, which has since been passed down to the same daughter.

They also have two grandsons and a granddaughter.

Asked the secret to a long and happy marriage, Sheila said: "Arguments do come up occasionally but it's important to settle them as soon as possible.

"If you let them hang on they just get worse."

To celebrate their platinum anniversary on March 20, Charles and Sheila are planning a meal with friends, followed next weekend by a family lunch at Stanbrook Abbey Hotel in Worcester.