Leap day wedding couple celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, despite being married for 40 years

Barbie and Graham have been married for 40 years but are only celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary (SWNS)

A couple who got engaged and married on a leap day are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary on Saturday, despite being married for 40 years.

Deciding to take advantage of the tradition that says women can propose to their other halves on leap day, Barbie Carson, 86, proposed to Graham, 83, “on a whim” as they were driving to the shops on 29 February 1976.  

The couple enjoyed a four-year engagement before they walked down the aisle the following leap year on 29 February 1980. 

But despite spending the last four decades happily married, the pair are technically only celebrating only their tenth wedding anniversary. 

Recalling the moment she proposed, Barbie, from Warminster, Wilts, said: “I didn't have a ring with me. I suppose it was just completely spur of the moment. 

“I can't really remember where we were driving to but I just turned to him and asked him if he wanted to marry me.

“It just felt right with him and I wanted to spend my life with him.”

Read more: Would you buy your own engagement ring?

Barbie proposed to Graham 44 years ago on Leap Day 1977 (SWNS)

Despite being the one to pop the question, Barbie sweetly credits her husband Graham for the couple’s long romance.  

“I may have been the one to propose but it's Graham who has made the last 40 years wonderful,” she says.

Remembering the day of the proposal, Graham said Barbie caught him by surprise: “It was quite out of the blue but it just felt right,” he says.

Even though he says he didn’t have a clue what Barbie was about to ask him, Graham says never hesitated for a second.

“We were going strong and when she suggested it I thought it was a great idea!

“I'm glad she did it as it means I've been able to spend the past 40 years calling her my wife,” he adds.

The loved-up couple originally met in 1972 after Barbie left behind her career as one of the John Tiller Girls, which saw her perform with Bruce Forsyth, to move to London. 

Having applied for a job in merchandising, Barbie was interviewed by future husband Graham, who not only gave her the job, but cheekily asked her for a date just a few weeks after starting.

Barbie and Graham had been together for a happy four years, before Barbie decided to take their relationship to the next level and ask Graham to be her husband.

But she says she hadn’t planned a grand gesture, admitting instead that the thought just popped into her head when they were in the car on 29 February 1976. 

Read more: Couple surprise friends and family by turning engagement party into their wedding

Barbie and Graham married on February 29 in 1980 (SWNS)

After a four-year engagement, the couple finally walked down the aisle on the next Leap Day, four years later.

“I'm so glad I did it as it's meant I've spent the last 40 years with this wonderful man,” Barbie says, describing her husband as her “rock.”

“I suffered a stroke in 2015 and Graham has just been marvellous,” she continues. “He's my registered carer now but to me that still means we're able to do everything together.”

And Barbie has some words of encouragement for women who might be thinking of proposing to their partners this leap year.

“I don’t think it matters whether a man or woman does [the proposing],” she says. 

“To be honest there's not really a lot of good men out there. So if you've got one and it feels right, why not?”