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Norwich care home throws couple a 66th anniversary party

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image copyrightBlack Swan Care Group
image captionDerek and Phyllis Mapes, both 90, have been married for 66 years

A couple who were unable to hold hands for four months have been thrown a party at a care home to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary.

Derek and Phyllis Mapes, both 90, from Norwich, were married in February 1954.

Mrs Mapes moved to Laurel Lodge in the city in June and, although her husband was able to see her at a distance, they could not be together until he moved in to the same care home this month.

Staff created a belated "date night" for them, which they said was "lovely".

Ill health prevented the couple celebrating their anniversary earlier this year as Mrs Mapes was in hospital, before she moved to the care home.

Although Mr Mapes was able to speak to his wife on the telephone or in a garden, and occasionally indoors at a distance, they could not hold hands or kiss each other goodbye.

image copyrightBlack Swan Care Group
image captionPhotographs from the couple's wedding were put on display for the "date night"
image copyrightBlack Swan Care Group
image captionPhyllis and Derek are able to kiss again - at last

Earlier this month, he decided to move into the home with his wife.

Together with the couple's daughter, staff planned a special surprise anniversary party for the pair, complete with a steak dinner, roses, and photographs from their wedding.

"I had steak, but Phyllis had sausages as she's not keen on steak," Mr Mapes said.

image copyrightBlack Swan Care Group
image captionThe couple dressed in their finery for the occasion

Some staff at the home even came in on their day off to sing and play the piano as the couple dined.

"Thank you very much - it was very good, lovely," said Mr Mapes.

Asked about the secret to their 66-year-long marriage, he added: "It's about doing what the other half says."

image copyrightBlack Swan Care Group
image captionStaff entertained the couple during the party

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