Wiganer's romantic proposal back where it all began

Mark Gibson and Natalie McRae
Mark Gibson and Natalie McRae

Arch-romantic Mark Gibson popped the question to long-term sweetheart Natalie McRae - on the very spot at the Wigan sixth form college where they met 11 years earlier.

The day began like any other for Natalie as she set off to work at Edge Hill University, but with a little help from friends and family, 28-year-old Mark had organised a romantic treasure hunt with clues carefully placed at various sites close to the couple’s.

Mark Gibson and Natalie McRae

Mark Gibson and Natalie McRae

And it ended in the Winstanley College courtyard where they first clapped eyes on each other back in 2007.

Along the way, 26-year-old Natalie’s stops included: the cinema where they had their first date, a local pub and their family homes, to name but a few.

Upon arriving at Winstanley, Natalie was escorted to the courtyard where Mark was waiting for her displaying some rather impressive juggling skills. With Radiohead’s Daydreaming playing in the background, he got down on one knee, asked if she would marry him and (thankfully!) she said yes!

The night was then rounded off with a surprise party.

Environmental enforcement officer Mark, who hails from Standish, was president of Newcastle University circus society and the pair later went round performing circus entertainment at corporate events.

He said: “We met because I was juggling in the courtyard of the college and Natalie saw me through the conservatory window. She (bizarrely) had a bag full of shoes with her and asked me if I could juggle them (I could!). We continued talking after that and went on a date to Wigan Empire cinema.

“Things didn’t go further than that but we remained friends. It was later on, in 2010 during Easter Break from University, that we reconnected and officially became a couple.”

Natalie is an events officer at Edge Hill and comes from Ormskirk.

Mark said: “I certainly have a lot more respect for how difficult Natalie’s job organising events is – it was a challenging few months putting all the plans together while keeping it all a secret from her but it was all worth it to see her reaction to the ring, which I presented to her through a juggling trick for old time’s sake. She looked just as beautiful as she did the day we met and we will both remember the day as long as we live.”

Natalie said: “What Mark did was amazing. I was overwhelmed and have felt very emotional since.”