IT all started when a policeman knocked on the front door at Joan Edwards’ house in Christchurch while Britain was in the throes of the Second World War.

With accommodation in short supply, her family was asked whether there was room at their home in Manor Road for some sailors who would be stationed at a nearby Fleet Air Arm base in Somerford.

She may not have known it then, but when a young Joe Waterman walked through the door, it would lead to a long and happy marriage.

Two children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren later Joe, 93, and Joan, 90, have celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary. It has been 70 years of ‘real happiness’ together during which they have lived in a town they love and have worked tirelessly to improve.

Joan said: ‘It wasn’t love at first sight. We got to know one another over the weeks and months to come.’

Joe was billeted to Christchurch in 1944. Joan was 16 when they started going out.

The pair would take the dog out for walks and Joe recalls how they would buy a portion of chips to share as a treat - throwing the odd one to the Cocker Spaniel. They would also enjoy dancing together at a local hotel.

At the end of the war, Joe would come to visit regularly before his job took him to the Channel Islands where he was helping to renovate duplicators which had been neglected during the war.

Joan recalled: ‘He wrote to me asking whether I still wanted to marry him.’

Joe said he wanted a quick answer so he could take advantage of favourable tax rules on the islands to buy her a ring.

‘We just realised that we liked one another and that was it,’ said Joan, of the 1947 engagement. A year later, on a glorious summer day, they were married in Christchurch Priory.

‘It was a beautiful day, so we were lucky there and we had the reception in the church hall - everyone helped out because wartime rationing was still very severe then,’ Joan added.

From then on they didn’t look back and - after a brief spell in Southampton - Christchurch would be their happy home for decades to come, starting in a flat in Stour Road.

From early on, the couple made it a personal mission to contribute to the local community.

In the 1960s they raised money to build a swimming pool at the Grange School. Joan became a leader at the local scout group in the 1970s and Joe was invited to join the Christchurch District Scout Council as their PR officer, where he formed the post of Mayor’s Scout, a tradition that continues to this day.

In 2002 Joe worked to have a plaque dedicated to the American and local war heroes who were involved in a tragic air crash in the Christchurch Airfields in 1944, put up at Purewell.

In the same year, Joe was awarded a meritorious award for his work in the borough by the mayor, Cllr Josephine Spencer

The couple were founder members of the Friends and Residents of Grange Community Association (Frogs) when it was formed in 1999 having joined the group because they wanted to improve the quality of life in the Grange Ward, especially for young people.

They sought to provide a BMX and skate park for the youngsters and after looking out several premises, were able to create a wheel park at the borough council-owned Dorset Road Recreation Park.

Thanks to their dedication and hard work in creating a place where youngsters could spend time, as well as working with a number of other local causes and organisations over the years, the recreation park was named Watermans Park in their honour.

Joe said of life in Christchurch: ‘We’ve always enjoyed it. It’s very peaceful and all the surroundings are so good - the seaside and the New Forest, everything about it is nice really.'

Reflecting on their milestone anniversary, Joan said the couple had made a point of doing things together and drawn comfort from watching their family growing up.

She said: ‘We have always got involved in things together, that has been important. Over the years, we have just loved one another and looked after one another.’