CHILDHOOD sweethearts John and Marguerite Smith say the secret to a successful marriage is love and laughter.

And the couple, from Finchley Lane, Bicester, certainly know what they are talking about because today, they will celebrate their Diamond wedding anniversary.

The pair met when they were teenagers and married a few years later in 1952 at the town’s former Catholic church in Priory Road.

Mr Smith, 80, left school at 14 and took on a building apprenticeship.

In 1949, aged 18, he joined the Navy as a gunner and spent most of the next seven-and-a-half years at sea.

He served aboard HMS Anson, Excellence, Loch Tralaig and Ceylon.

The couple married while Mr Smith was serving in the Navy, and lived briefly in Portland, Dorset, before moving back to Bicester where they had five children, Calvin, now 59, Marilyn, 58, Garry, 56, Tracey, 50, and Lisa, 45.

After leaving the Navy, Mr Smith worked for Pressed Steel and Osberton Radiators, in Oxford, and then joined the William Barrett furniture factory, in Murdock Road, Bicester, until he retired.

He remains a familiar face around Bicester, as he has a part-time job delivering flowers.

Housewife Mrs Smith, nee Dean, 79, said: “We never had a lot of money to throw around, but what we had, we shared.

“We have always had a laugh and always pulled together.

“We have had a lifetime of love and laughter. Our kids have been everything to us.

“Of course we have had our differences but we always ended up having a jolly good laugh.”

The couple, who have nine grandchildren, will celebrate their six decades together with a family party tomorrow.