A devoted couple who have exchanged the same two Christmas cards for almost four decades have had the originals replicated as a very special gift.
Mick Plant, 72, and his wife Sue, 55, first sent each other seasonal greetings in the year they first met in 1978.
For the next 37 years the couple, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., added a new message on the same cards, along with the date it was penned as a unique memoir.
When their son’s girlfriend, Andrea Taylor, 32, who works for Hallmark cards found out she told her boss.
The famous card producers commissioned a blank replica of the original as a unique gift to the couple and etched their story into a plaque on their factory’s Hall of Fame.
Sue said: “When I bought that card in 1978 during our first Christmas as a couple, I never thought I would be giving him the same one year on year.
“I remember going to the card shop, seeing the card and thinking ‘That’s perfect’.
“It was big and bold and it’s got a funny elephant on the front and my husband’s always joking about.
“It said ‘Christmas Greetings dear Husband’, which was sort of a joke, but also because I knew he was the one straight away.
“Big cards were the fashion back then I think, I never intended to keep using the same one.
“But now every time I look at my card it brings back memories of things that have happened over the years.
“The year our son Michael was born, 1980, Mick wrote ‘All my love to Sue from Mick xx’.
“The words are a bit different each year, so every time I see that one it brings back memories of the first Christmas we had with our new boy.”
The messages are something very special to us, we don’t do it with anyone else, although I’ve kept all our cards to and from Michael.
“I’ve still even got his first birthday card, that’s really special.”
When Andrea discovered the doting couples’ tradition last Christmas she told Hallmark, who asked to see the cards.
Sue said: “We said to Andrea they’d have to wait until after Christmas, because we have them out then, but in January we let them have them.
“They took them for two months, so we were a bit worried, but what they did was really amazing.
“We got a full tour of the factory and even met the people who made the original in 1978.
“They gave us one blank copy and one with all the messages, and also put our story on their Hall of Fame.”
Mick and Sue met in 1978 when they both worked for GEC Meters in Stone, Staffs., where Sue was an assembler and Mick was a maintenance engineer.
They got married on September 6, 1980, at Stafford register office after buying a flat in Walton, Liverpool.
The couple worked together at the same company until Mick retired 12 years ago.
Sue said: “I know it sounds corny but when I met him, I knew we were going to be together. He was a proper gentleman and was always very polite.
“I was really pleased when he said he would take me out for a meal but I didn’t realise we would be going to a football game.
“He actually took me to a Stoke City match on our first date and my meal was a pie.
“It was nice because we were both Stoke City supporters and the team won 1-0 against West Brom, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
“The cards we gave to each other all them years ago means a lot to us because they are like a record of our relationship.
“It’s tremendous that Hallmark has made these new cards for us because ours was getting a bit full.
“But when they handed me the blank card I said ‘Does that come with a guarantee that I can fill it for the next 37 years?’
“They jokingly said my card was the most expensive card they ever made apart from the Queen’s.
“It’s because it’s made of silk and apparently they don’t make them like that anymore.
“I just picked it up because it was nice.
“The next Christmas because we had put the date in it just happened naturally that we sent the same one again with another message.
“Every Christmas Eve we sit down in front of the fire together and go through all the messages, it’s a really special moment.
“We’ve had to keep them in a suitcase under our bed to protect them in between years because they’re a bit fragile.
“These new cards mean we can keep the tradition going even longer, especially as we were running out of room.
“It’s better than any present we could have got, it really is special.”