George loves a roast dinner on a Sunday and we have fish or shepherd's pie in the week. Picture:

If you are wondering what the secret is for a long and happy marriage, forget expensive gifts, grand gestures and romantic getaways.

All you need for a lifetime of wedded bliss, according to Britain's longest married couple, is a chat and a hot meal every evening – especially if it's shepherd's pie.

Phyllis Loftus, 94, and husband George, 100 – who have never gone abroad or been able to afford a house or a car – are about to celebrate their 77th wedding anniversary.

The couple's golden rules also include spending within your means and "don't let the sun go down on any wrath".

Mrs Loftus said: "My mother gave me these guidelines 77 years ago and we kept to them. We always have a good hot meal every night and a chat.

"George loves a roast dinner on a Sunday and we have fish or shepherd's pie in the week. We've done that every night of our marriage and it's kept us strong.

"Couples are not the same these days. If people loved each other like we do, it would be a better world."

The pair, who live in Cannock, Staffordshire, married on August 10, 1940, when Mrs Loftus was 17.

They have one child, Ray, born in 1944, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

They began dating in 1938 when Mrs Loftus was a trainee nurse.

They met when she took a train through Walsall, where her future husband worked as a railway fireman with her brother Douglas.

The pair surprised her by standing on top of a train and waving as she passed, and the next day Mr Loftus was invited round for tea.

Mrs Loftus said of their first date: "He walked me all around Walsall in my high heels and bought me a box of chocolates."

They married in a small service at Walsall Register Office, with a reception at a nearby cafe, dining on roast pork and apple pie with fresh cream, although they could not afford a honeymoon. Mr Loftus was not called up to fight in the war because working for the railways was a reserved occupation.

Mrs Loftus was a bus conductress during the war, and became a JP in 1963. She was a magistrate for 30 years, retiring at 70.

The couple, who have seen 14 prime ministers during their long marriage, have always stayed close to home. "George and I have never been abroad – we've never even had a passport," Mrs Loftus said.

"We've never owned a house or car, never drank or smoked because we've always had what we can afford. I have always said as long as there is good food on the table that's all that matters. The way to a man's heart is through the stomach.

"We count ourselves fortunate to have had so many blessings."