Nonagenarians who met at Catterick garrison celebrate platinum wedding anniversary

Roy and Christina Hartnell, of Ponteland, have been married for 70 years after meeting in World War Two - but he almost had the wrong girl

Roy and Christina Hartnell of Ponteland in Craster after 71 years of marriage
Roy and Christina Hartnell of Ponteland in Craster after 71 years of marriage

A chance meeting during the Second World War has led to many happy years for Roy and Christina Hartnell.

The couple celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary on Thursday with a trip to one of their favourite haunts, the Jolly Fisherman in Craster.

Roy, 91, and Christina, 92, of Ponteland, Northumberland, met during the war at Catterick Camp - now Catterick Garrison - in North Yorkshire.

Roy was a musician in a travelling military dance band while Christina, who shared a love of dance, volunteered for the army repairing tanks in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers depot at Catterick, where romance blossomed.

But things nearly didn’t go to plan for the pair.

Roy explained: “During a gig in 1943 I saw two ladies and I said to the drummer I wouldn’t mind taking her for a date. He disappeared and came back and said it’s all fixed.

“It turned out that he had set me up with the wrong one, so he had to go back and set up a date with the right lady, who turned out to be Christina.”

The duo tied the knot in Reading, Berkshire 70 years ago where they lived with Roy’s parents until 1950 and the arrival of son Keith. From there they moved to Hazlerigg, Newcastle where Christina grew up in a family with a mining background.

Roy said: “Every time I tried to leave to get married the band would have a big booking, so I couldn’t go. Finally I told them I’m going to have to go before I lose her.

“We got married on the Monday but I hadn’t slept since the previous Wednesday, so that was interesting.”

Christina started working in bakery shops in Hazlerigg and Dudley, before switching to Ponteland Health Centre until her retirement shortly after moving to the village.

Talented musician Roy joined the army in the 1940s and played in several military bands during the war, also operating a mobile sound recording studio.

He joined the Northumbrian country dance band, Jack Armstrong’s Barnstormers, as lead accordionist and arranger after moving North.

Roy was also director at Mortonsound, a North East sound recording studio on Oxford Street, Newcastle. He also built the recording studio where he recorded the Geordie band Kontours before they became the Animals.

Roy also made TV commercials with Hartnell Studios in North Shields.

Son Keith said: “Mum has always been, and still is, at the centre of our family life, supporting, encouraging and praising but never criticising or complaining about others.

“She keeps her opinions to herself. Her motto is: ‘If I can help somebody then my living won’t have been in vain’. She is a saint.

“Dad is still actively engaged as vice chairman of Northumbria Camcorder Club for whom he continues to produce training films on subjects such as digital sound recording and editing, which is his speciality.

“For them to reach 70 years of marriage is a remarkable achievement.”

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