A COUPLE were overwhelmed to get a message from the Pope in honour of their 60th wedding anniversary.

James and Joan Brooks, of Hope Avenue, Harwood, tied the knot at Holy Infant and St Anthony Church, Astley Bridge, on September 5, 1953.

As they prepare to mark the special occasion tomorrow, Mrs Brooks, aged 80, revealed her advice for a long and happy marriage.

She said: “I can only say that we like the same things. We’ve always done the same things — travelling, music, dancing.

“We’ve always done the same things together. We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been so happy for 60 years. And I think we’ve been positive people.

“We’re making a DVD of some of our life story.

“We called into the church a few weeks ago and they invited us to go on Sunday.

“We were very surprised because we got a blessing, a message from the Pope and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

“It was quite overwhelming.”

Mr Brooks, aged 86, was born in Kilmarnock in 1927 but grew up in Bolton. Mrs Brooks was born in Bolton in 1933.

Their only son, Jim, who lives in New Zealand with his wife Cath, said: “They met at the old Transport Club in Bolton where mum had a singing engagement.

“Their first date was a trip to Blackpool on dad’s prized motorcycle.

“After 60 years, they continue to be a close, loving couple, best friends and always optimistic.”

After their wedding, Mr Brooks, a former haulage driver, and Mrs Brooks, who worked as a clerk in a production control office, enjoyed a honeymoon in Largs, Ayrshire.

To celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, the couple are having friends round to their house for a get-together tomorrow.