Romantic Stuart Whittle gave his girlfriend a lesson in speed-dating – when he proposed to her on a giant billboard one of Europe’s busiest motorways.
The 36-year-old pretended to break down and pulled his Vauxhall Astra onto the hard shoulder near Junction 1 of the M5 by Wednesbury, West Mids.
After asking girlfriend Claire Jewhurst, 36, to help him look under the bonnet, he suddenly got down on one knee and asked her to look at the billboard behind her.
The teaching assistant was stunned when she saw the 8ft by 10ft digital screen feature a picture of her and their two-year-old daughter Summer next to the words: “Claire I love you. Marry Me.”
Luckily for gas engineer Stuart, an emotional Claire turned round to him and said ‘I do’.
Claire told how she originally told Stuart off for pulling over on the hard shoulder on Valentine’s Day.
She said: “I was really shocked, I did not have an idea at all.
“He has done special things in the past. I was telling him off because we were going to be late to pick up my daughter from nursery and then when I looked, we were all there on the sign.
“It was a grand gesture – but it’s not how I expected to be proposed to really. It was unconventional, let’s put it that way.
“But it was lovely, bless him – and I couldn’t be happier.”
Stuart, from Streetly, West Mids., said he originally wanted to take out a TV advert to propose to his girlfriend of seven years, but realised it would be too expensive.
He said: “I drive past the digital screen every day to work.
“Everyone was saying take her out for a meal and do it that way but I wanted to do something different, something that would be noticed.
“She had a go at me at first, saying we were going to be late, and then she looked up and saw the sign.
“Her reaction was just shock really.
“I had made no gestures it would happen. I did not want her to expect it at all.
“Obviously she said ‘yes’. There were a few tears in her eyes.”
Stuart had given Claire a Valentine’s Card earlier in the day saying ‘to my girlfriend’.
But after the successful proposal he instantly presented her with a new card saying ‘to my fiancee.’
He said he was aware he could have potentially got into trouble with the police for stopping on the hard shoulder without good reason – but said he was prepared to take the risk.
He added: “I might have got three points – but it would have been worth it.
“The company didn’t even charge me for the sign – I think they admired my guts.”
The couple, who met on a night out at a night-club, have not yet decided on a date for their wedding.