A FORMER Kempsey cricketer is celebrating a half-century of marriage today with the woman he met when he was just a young teenager.

Tom and Phyllis Ranscombe walked through a guard of honour of cricket bats on their wedding day 50 years ago today.

The couple met when Phyllis was just 10 years old and Tom worked with her brother.

"We became friends and then Tom joined the Army during the war. It wasn't until he left the Army that romance started," said Mrs Ranscombe.

The couple began courting when Mrs Ranscombe was 17. They were engaged four years later in 1949 and married on September 2, 1950, at St Mark's in Worcester's Bath Road.

Though times were hard in their early years together, the couple have remained in high spirits, indulging in their passion for foreign climes as well as having their own interests.

Mr Ranscombe batted for Kempsey's village cricket club, while his wife played tennis and made dresses, even designing and making her own wedding dress.

"I think the secret is to give and take, working together and having a few of your own interests so you're not in each other's pockets," said Mrs Ranscombe, who is now 72.

"We've worked hard all our lives and we've pulled together," added her 77-year-old husband.

"We've had quite a full life."

The couple have one son, John, who lives in Whittington.

He kept up the tradition of playing for Kempsey Cricket Club. Their grandson Paul plays for rival team Worcester Nomads, and his son, Oliver has also taken to the game - at the age of two.

The golden couple have lived in Kempsey all their married lives and were due to celebrate their anniversary with a lunch at the Fruiterers Arms, in Kempsey, where they expected to be joined by 45 guests.

Among them were expected to be their best man and all three bridesmaids, one of whom is travelling across the Atlantic from the United States.