GOLDEN couple John and Janet Davies have celebrated 50 years since nearly being married by the inventor of Thomas the Tank Engine.

John, 75, and Jan, 74, from Royal Wootton Bassett were both only-children and first met in Southall, Nottinghamshire, while John was working as a secondary school teacher and Jan was working as a nanny.

John, originally from Cheshire, said: “We met through other nannies knowing local chaps."

A year later in 1964 the couple were married at Emneth, a village near Wisbech.

Jan, originally from Cambridge-shire, said: “The rector was the Rev W Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine.

“He was on holiday, so the Rev David Fleming, one of John’s college friends, married us. A nursing friend looked after the two four-year-old bridesmaids, in white. "”

The pair honeymooned in North Yorkshire before settling in Nottingham, where their daughter Serena was born in 1965.

The couple moved to the Swindon area in 1966 after John, who had read maths and science at university, made a career change and started work in Swindon’s youth and community service at Ferndale, Drove, Commonweal and Dorcan, where he worked until he retired in 1999.

They now spend much time with their two grandsons, aged 22 and 18 and granddaughter, 19, who were all born at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon and also live locally.

Jan said: “We’ve enjoyed many happy times with them, especially when they were younger, as our daughter teaches in Swindon.”

Since 2009 John has been an active member of the town’s Arts Festival committee, enjoying the music events in June and the speech, drama and classical guitar events every November.

Having become an accomplished pianist at an early age, he was a accompanist with Swindon Light Amateur Dramatic Association for many years, and now plays for Lisa Williams’ local choir Cantanti.

As well as being chairman of the Arts Festival committee, in his spare time John enjoys gardening.

Jan, who qualified as a nurse at London's Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, spent time in Virginia, USA while working as a nanny.

When the couple moved to Wootton Bassett she became a welfare assistant at Longleaze School for some years before spending 10 years as co-proprietor of a tea room at Apsley Arcade.

She was also housekeeper at Nore Marsh Manor during its three years as a hotel, and is now the popular assistant treasurer of Royal Wootton Bassett Flower Club.