An Eastbourne mum was on cloud nine at the weekend after her boyfriend of eight years proposed to her on stage in front of thousands of people at Airbourne.
Romance was in the air as Paul Neil, 36, travelled more than 1,000 miles at the last minute to secure Emma Cox’s hand in marriage at the annual event.
The airshow fan and keen sky diver, who until Friday was working on a yacht in Montenegro, proposed on Saturday, shortly before the Red Arrows were due to take to the skies to display in front of thousands of fans.
Emma delighted crowds with a ‘yes’ before embracing on the beach to a rapturous round of applause, with the happy moment relayed on the big screen.
The couple who originally met while working on another yacht together eight years ago, see each other once or twice a month during the summer due to Paul’s job as chief officer on the private yacht.
Emma and her friends and family, including their two children Tia and Marco, were due to watch the flying displays on the beach when Paul made the surprise return back to Eastbourne.
Emma, 34, said, “It was such a surprise. I wondered where Paul had gone and then he suddenly appeared on stage! It was such a special moment and it really hasn’t sunk in yet. We haven’t set a date yet, but Tia is so excited to be a flower girl.”
Paul said, “I chose Eastbourne because Emma is such an Airbourne fan, I thought it would be a great thing to do.
“We had a fantastic celebration afterwards at a local hotel and sat on the terrace with champagne watching the rest of the flying displays.
“It was important for us to celebrate with our friends and for Tia and Marco to be a real part of it too.”
The couple were able to enjoy a few more flying displays on Sunday with Tia, aged six, and Marco, aged two, before Paul returned to his job at sea in Montenegro.
The free four day airshow, which began on Thursday, has enjoyed record crowds with the Red Arrows every day, Britain’s first Lancaster bomber formation in 50 years and a new Airbourne Live stage on the beach featuring live bands and entertainment into the evening.