BEAMING Pat Smith has finally been able to let a six-month secret slip today as she marks her 50th wedding anniversary.

The 68-year-old great-grandmother, of Stanway Road, Risinghurst, surprised husband Ernie, 70, with a holiday of a lifetime to Corfu.

But before they leave the country, the golden couple will be celebrating their milestone with friends today and a family meal at the Prince of Wales in Iffley tomorrow.

On reaching the impressive anniversary, Pat told the Oxford Mail: “It’s marvellous to reach 50 years together. Considering he loves football and the pub and I don’t!

“He is quite witty, good fun – he just makes me laugh.”

The couple met in 1961 in Underhill Circus, Barton, when Pat spotted dedicated Oxford United fan Ernie, who was on his bike at the time.

Pat, whose maiden name is Hawes, said: “He was on his bike and I was there with my sister. She said to me that I fancied him – I just liked his curly hair!

“I suppose we just flirted around.”

They were engaged by Christmas and married the day after Pat’s 18th birthday on September 8, 1962, at Corpus Christi church in Headington.

The newly-weds enjoyed a reception at Risinghurst Community Centre and then travelled to Brighton for a week for their honeymoon.

The couple have three children; Tony Smith, 48, Jackie Read, 44, and Jason Smith, 40; plus nine grandchildren, five step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild – nine-year-old Ryan Simmonds.

Pat works as a support worker for those with learning disabilities at Berkshire-based charity Kingwood and Ernie was the former site manager at Headington Middle School.

Ernie, who lives only a few doors down from the house he was born, said: “This married life is all right. As long as you don’t let it interfere with your private life. Only joking, we get on well.”

So what is the secret to a long and happy marriage?

“There is no secret. We just tolerate one another,” Ernie added.