Hitchin man’s romantic proposal in front of 200 strangers

Paul proposes to Sarah

Paul proposes to Sarah - Credit: Archant

WHEN Paul Neale decided to propose to girlfriend Sarah Fawcett, he wanted to do a little bit more than get down on one knee.

So the 29-year-old decided to invite his now-fiancee to the lecture hall where they first exchanged glances, before proposing in front of 200 people to a band and dance troupe he had hired.

Sarah, also 29, had no idea what was about to transpire, believing the couple were attending a lecture on travel at Sheffield Hallam, where the couple first met.

It was only when Paul got up to make his “guest speech” that she twigged what was really going on.

It’s an idea the Hitchin resident has been cooking up for around three years, although he has only just been able to carry it out as he has been too ill with Crohn’s disease.

“The real reason I did it is she means the world to me and I wanted people to see that,” said Paul, who lives with Sarah in the Purwell area of town.

“With my Chrohn’s, she has been a great support, and this is the least she deserves.”

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Paul and Sarah met at the university in 2006 during their final year studying business courses.

The date of the proposal, which took place on Friday, was even more poignant as it marked the couple’s seventh anniversary.

Paul, who works in marketing, began his pretend presentation with slides on travel – a specialist subject – before launching into the proposal.

The first slide – which revealed the word “surprise” alongside a picture of the couple – was followed by another sequence of slides which revealed the whole event had been a set-up.

A screen was then pulled back to reveal the dance troupe and band, who played Motown music – the couple’s favourite genre – to a slideshow of photos, before Paul got down on one knee and presented the ring.

It all came as a complete surprise to Sarah.

She said: “I just started crying, I went into a complete daze.

“It was so overwhelming, and definitely a shock – a very nice one.”

The couple hope to tie the knot next year – possibly on their eighth anniversary.

And Paul says there may be a few more surprises in store on the big day itself.

“I’ve got a few ideas for the wedding which are pretty out there,” he said.

The couple flew out to Italy to mark their engagement after the proposal.

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