THIS WEEK IN 1994: On his return, Russ pops the big question

The banner Rob Abbot hung from the side of HMS to propose to Rachel
The banner Rob Abbot hung from the side of HMS to propose to Rachel
The Coronation all lit up. A passing trolleybus gives it some scale.

NOSTALGIA: When Portsmouth really knew how to push the boat out

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Sailor Rob Abbot chose the perfect moment to pop the question he’d been planning to ask for five months.

As HMS Nottingham sailed home to Portsmouth he proposed to his girlfriend Rachel with a banner on the side of the ship.

‘Rachel will you marry me?’ proclaimed the banner – and there were no dry eyes from Rob’s intended and her family.

‘Yes’ was the first word uttered by Rachel Lilley, aged 21, of Buckland, after six months’ separation from her boyfriend.

Able seaman Rob Abbot, 20, known as ‘Russ’ in the destroyer, revealed his request was not made on the spur of the moment.

‘I decided to do it in May or June – most of the family knew but they managed to keep it a secret,’ he said.

The couple returned to their home in Binsteed Road, Buckland, to begin planning their wedding.

Nottingham seemed to take an age to be tugged to the quayside as hundreds of relatives and friends of the 280 company, who spent six months patrolling the Adriatic, cheered and wept.

Nottingham spent much of her time in a high state of readiness while enforcing the UN arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia.

The ship’s commanding officer, Commander Ian Moncrieff said he considered her role to be very worthwhile.