A RESIDENT at a Halstead nursing home and his doting wife celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last week with a surprise party.

Edmond Harding, 88, and Valerie Harding, 85, were left stunned after a routine visit turned into a celebratory bash filled with reminiscent relatives and a cheery atmosphere.

Organised by loving daughter Joanne and staff at The Cedars Care Home on Sudbury Road where dementia suffer Edmond is staying, the devoted couple were left in shock when they realised 13 of their close relatives had gathered to commemorate their special day.

The party featured a display board on which black and white photos from the couples’ wedding were attached and a “beautiful and lovely” cake, featuring a photograph of former navigational aid inspector Edmond and wife Valerie, was prepared by the care home.

Daughter Joanne Harding said: “When the care home heard about my mum and dad’s anniversary, they were adamant we had to have a proper celebration.

“My mum was over the room and my dad was really surprised because he does recognise us all, even though he is in the latter stages of dementia, but it was nice for him because he rarely sees the whole family together.

“It was a lovely day and he recognised what was going on and was very happy we were there.”

Edmond and Valerie met in 1961 and married three years later. Their wedding, described as “spectacular” by daughter Joanne, attracted more than 200 guests.