Wigan nurse taking on fund-raising challenge receives surprise proposal on her birthday

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A nurse who walked 130 miles for charity to celebrate her 60th birthday described the heart-warming moment her fiancé proposed to her.

Ruth Byrne, from Standish, asked her partner of five years, Dennis Gaspar, to join her as she walked along the Anglesey coastal path to raise funds for sight loss charity Galloway’s.

Little did she know that part-way through the challenge, which was spread over 11 days, Dennis, 60, would pop the question on her birthday.

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She said: “It was a total surprise. Dennis had written the words ‘will you marry me?’ in my birthday card which I opened before we set off on our walk for that day. It made it more special doing it whilst we were completing the challenge in Anglesey. Dennis is my soulmate and love of my life.

Dennis Gaspar and Ruth ByrneDennis Gaspar and Ruth Byrne
Dennis Gaspar and Ruth Byrne

“Our news got a lot of likes and support on Facebook when we shared it. A lot of people have really enjoyed my adventures during the walking challenge as I posted photos and updates, so it was nice to share our special news with them.”

Ruth works in the ophthalmology department at Royal Preston Hospital and knows all too well the difficulties faced by people with sight loss, so Galloway’s was the obvious choice for her birthday fund-raiser.

The mother-of-two said: “As it was my 60th birthday, I thought giving was better than receiving. I wanted to support a local charity and having seen some of the amazing work from the Galloway’s eye clinic liaison officer at hospital, I wanted to help them continue to support blind and partially sighted.

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“I enjoy walking and I had a hip replacement last year so I wanted to test my fitness.

“This was the first chance I had to get out after lockdown and Anglesey coastline has been described as an area of outstanding natural beauty, so I chose to walk there.

“The walk took us 11 days and we stayed in a cottage. We had to split the challenge in two as we both work at the hospital and had to work some shifts.

“We walked an average of 12 miles a day. It was a poor month weather-wise, but when you are out all day you see the best and the worst as we had storms, gales and sunshine.”

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Ruth raised £585 for Galloway’s and said she was “really pleased”, having initially set her target at £50.

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