Tinsel and tears as sailors arrive home

Crowds welcome home HMS Edinburgh as the ship returns to Portsmouth

Crowds welcome home HMS Edinburgh as the ship returns to Portsmouth

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ROMANTIC sailor Aron Stoker arrived home to give his girlfriend the perfect Christmas present.

Able Seaman Stoker, 23, popped the question to 19-year-old Hannah Reeson as he disembarked from HMS St Albans after the Type-23 frigate arrived at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday.

Able seaman Aron Stoker (23) proposed to his girlfriend Hannah Reeson (19) as he disembarked from HMS St Albans

Able seaman Aron Stoker (23) proposed to his girlfriend Hannah Reeson (19) as he disembarked from HMS St Albans

Type-42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh also arrived back for an emotional double homecoming marked by tinsel and tears.

After getting the answer he wanted Aron said: ‘I felt I would know when would be the right moment to do it and, since I had been away for six months and it’s been hard for both of us, I just knew it was the right time.’

Hannah added: ‘I’m speechless, the ring is beautiful, it’s all very emotional.

‘I didn’t know it was going to happen at all, I’m very shocked.

‘It’s going to be the best Christmas ever.’

For hundreds of sailors’ families who stood waving on the jetty a long six-month wait was finally over.

Able Seaman Paul Sutherland, 27, cuddled his 20-month-old daughter Megan as he arrived home yesterday for the last time.

Paul has been in the navy since he was 16 and served in Iraq, but was devastated to lean he has now been made redundant.

‘It feels amazing to be home and to see Megan again,’ he said. ‘When I left she could barely crawl, now she is jumping in puddles.

‘But I love what I do. I love the navy and I don’t want to leave.’

HMS St Albans returned from a six-month tour of the Middle East and HMS Edinburgh also completed six-months in the South Atlantic.

Fourteen-year-old Amie Slack, from Hartlepool, was thrilled her school had given her time off so she could see her dad, PO Louis Slack, return in HMS Edinburgh.

She said: ‘I’ve missed having him around so much. I just want to sit down and talk to him again and hear about all his adventures.’

Also desperate to welcome home her husband Sean was Caroline Stafford who said: ‘Having him home is the best Christmas present we could hope for. It’s been a really tough wait.’

HMS Sultan-based sea cadet Zac Wightman, 13, got to spend the night on board HMS St Albans after being picked up in Plymouth.

The youngster was able to explore the warship and see what his dad, Chief Petty Officer Stephen Wightman, does for a living.

‘It was fantastic,’ said Zac, of Carnarvon Road, Gosport. ‘I was a little bit nervous at first because I didn’t know what it would be like.

‘But I had a look round the ship and saw the huge guns. There was also a drum kit down below and I got to have a go.’

St Albans’s commanding officer, Commander Tom Sharpe, said: ‘I want to thank everyone on board for making this a successful deployment. And it’s wonderful to be home in time for Christmas.’

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