A County Durham couple – separated through ill health – have enjoyed a belated 60th wedding anniversary celebration after finally being reunited.

Great grandparents, William – known as Bill – and Mavis Hall, both 82, tied the knot on 18 February 1956 after meeting through friends a few months earlier.

But their long and happy life together was cut short, when Bill, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009, was forced to move into residential care in 2014, leaving Mavis alone in their Birtley home.

Then last year, following a series of minor illnesses and a fall, Mavis, too, was admitted to residential care, this time at Gateshead.

But when Bill’s Gosforth care home closed, the former fitter and turner for Vickers Armstrong and Gateshead-based Davy Roll, became one of the first residents of the £6.5m Melton House, Melton Park, Gosforth, which opened in January 2016.

The 67-bedroom home is owned and operated by Prestwick Care, a division of the privately-owned, Newcastle-based Malhotra Group PLC – and bosses lost no time in bringing the pair back together.

They liaised with social services to bring Mavis, who built and owned a catering franchise business, to Melton House to be with Bill – and a year to the day after the couple’s diamond wedding anniversary, family, staff and residents threw a belated party.

Along with live music and dancing – and a telegram from HM The Queen – the couple also re-lived their wedding day by exchanging rings.

“Sadly, mum lost her wedding and eternity rings while she was in hospital,” said daughter, Barbara, 52, from Seaton Burn.

“So, we bought her new ones specially for the occasion and it was incredibly moving watching them exchange rings again after all these years.

“The change in the pair of them since they were reunited has been amazing. They both seemed to fade and withdraw into themselves when they were apart but, not only have we seen a dramatic change in mum since she’s been at Melton House, but also in dad.

“His Alzheimer’s is fairly advanced but he really responds to the sound of her voice. I am so grateful to the Malhotra family and the staff at Melton House. They are incredible people and they do an incredible job.”

Prestwick Care’s Head of Care, Eve Tierney, who was instrumental in bringing Mavis and Bill back together, said theirs is a genuine love story.

“Very often people forget that care – at any level – is first and foremost about people,” she said.

“There isn’t a medicine in the world that can cure sadness and loneliness. What Bill and Mavis needed was each other – and I am delighted we were able to reunite them.”

For further information visit www.prestwickcare.co.uk.