EVERY best man’s worst nightmare actually happened to Derek Harraway when he dropped the wedding ring down a church grating.

Luckily for Mr Harraway’s brother John, and his fiancée Betty Prater, another ring was found so the ceremony could go ahead at St Andrew’s Church, Letcombe Regis near Wantage on April 26, 1952.

The platinum ring was later retrieved from where it lay, two feet down on a pipe, and Betty Harraway, now 79, has been wearing it ever since.

“I can see the damn thing bouncing down now,” said Mrs Harraway, who today celebrates her Diamond Wedding anniversary with husband John, 85.

“We were lucky it landed on a pipe, otherwise it would have disappeared. I haven’t taken it off since.”

Mrs Harraway, of Fyfield Close, Wantage, said she borrowed a ring from her sister Gladys Bellis and her ring was found while she and John were signing the register.

Mr Harraway met Betty at a drill hall dance in Wantage on New Year’s Eve 1948, and got engaged two years later.

After the wedding, the couple enjoyed a honeymoon in Brighton, although they had to take their ration books.

From 1949, after leaving the RAF, Mr Harraway worked for Wantage Rural District Council and joined Vale of White Horse District Council in 1972, retiring as a senior accountant in 1988.

Mrs Harraway worked for the Southern Electricity Board in the Wantage showroom from about 1960 to 1975.

They have no children but will be joined by family and friends for a celebration at the Lord Nelson pub in Wantage.

They say the secret to a happy marriage is “respect”.