Love blossoms for pair down by the water’s edge

From left, Barry Hardman, Lewis Wright, Harrison Finch from the RNLI, Katie Baker from the RNLI, Sarah Jones with Mark Hummerstone and Shelby, two, Luke Rayner from the RNLI, and holding the boat, Gareth Davies
From left, Barry Hardman, Lewis Wright, Harrison Finch from the RNLI, Katie Baker from the RNLI, Sarah Jones with Mark Hummerstone and Shelby, two, Luke Rayner from the RNLI, and holding the boat, Gareth Davies

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A LUCKY lady got an extra special surprise when she was taken out by her boyfriend of three years for a stroll by the sea.

Former ­RNLI employee Mark Hummerstone had planned a proposal by the waterfront in Eastney.

Mark Hummerstone proposes to Sarah Jones by the waterfront in Eastney

Mark Hummerstone proposes to Sarah Jones by the waterfront in Eastney

The 33-year-old from Hilsea enlisted his friends and former work colleagues to sail past in the RNLI lifeboat with a sign held up saying ‘Sarah Jones, will you marry me?’.

Meanwhile, a couple of his friends hid on dry land, and waited for the moment to jump out and start playing her favourite song, Candy by Paolo Nutini.

Mark said he wanted the proposal to be extra special as the past two years had been hard for them both after their baby boy Shelby was born at 23 weeks weighing only a pound.

Mark had to quit his job at the RNLI as Shelby spent four months in hospital – and the past two years in and out of hospital for numerous major operations, including two heart surgeries, kidney surgery and laser eye surgery.

Luckily for Mark, who now works as an artist and sculptor, the proposal went to plan and Sarah said ‘yes’.

Sarah said: ‘I was very surprised. After everything with Shelby this was just something nice for us.’

The couple met at a family wedding three years ago and they had hoped to get married this summer but Mark wanted to surprise Sarah, 27, with a proposal and a ring.

He’d been planning the proposal for more than a month but he was sure she was suspicious.

Sarah, a care manager, said that she thought he had been acting strangely, hiding his phone from her, but she didn’t suspect anything.

Thankfully the weather on the bank holiday Sunday was clear so when Mark told Sarah that he needed to fix one of the trailers down at the dock on the Sunday there were no objections.

Sarah, who has two children Samuel, six, and Emily, four, from a previous relationship, and is originally from Petersfield, said: ‘I thought the photographer who was there was taking photos of the boat. I kept asking why Mark wasn’t looking at the trailer.

‘It wasn’t until the life­boat was off the trailer and they lifted the sign up that I had any idea something was going on.

‘I thought it was just a normal day. It was really cute.’

Mark, originally from Portsmouth, said he was not nervous until he got there. He added: ‘When I sat down on the bench with her I was just concentrating on moving the stones out of the way for when I knelt down.

‘I want to thank the RNLI for helping and everyone involved. And obviously say thank you to Sarah for saying yes.’