This is the tender moment a romantic homecoming sailor who has been at sea for nearly seven months got down on one knee and proposed to his tearful girlfriend – who said yes.
Michael Marsden, 21, stunned his girlfriend of one year Janine Hilton as he ran into her arms and popped the question with flowers in one hand an engagement ring in the other.
Janine, 32, of Manchester, wept tears of joy as she held her hands to her mouth and said ‘yes’ before slipping the diamond engagement on her wedding finger.
Michael, who had been planning the proposal for six months, popped the question as he was welcomed home following a six month tour at sea aboard HMS Cumberland.
He was among hundreds of sailors welcomed by friends and family who lined the shore at naval base Devonport at 11am on Saturday.
Following the proposal, Michael, also of Manchester, said: ”I’m over the moon and a very relieved man.
”I’ve been planning this for around six months and when we were told we were staying out there an extra month the nerves grew but I couldn’t be happier.
“All the boys on board knew and have been giving me some grief but thankfully I got the answer I wanted.”
Janine added: “I’m so shocked I can hardly speak.
“I had absolutely no idea and am just stunned. He’s made me the happiest woman alive.”
Hundreds family and friends lined the shore yesterday to welcome home the British sailors, who helped in the evacuation of fleeing refugees from war-torn Libya.
Crowds clapped and cheered as HMS Cumberland returned to England after a six and a half month tour – one month later than planned after supporting those in Libya.
The Type 22 Frigate passed Plymouth Hoe Harbour yesterday, where she fired a gun salute to watching well-wishers before docking at naval base Devonport.
The celebrations marked the end of HMS Cumberland’s final tour as she is now due to be decommissioned.
Hundreds of sailors who took part in the six month tour – in which they were also involved in counter piracy operations – ran into the arms of loved ones who roared their arrival.
The ship sailed from Devonport September 30 on a counter-piracy and maritime policing patrol, but was re-stationed off the coast off Libya to evacuate those fleeing Benghazi.
Captain Steve Dainton, Commanding Officer of HMS Cumberland said: “Cumberland’s final deployment has shown just how useful a warship like her can be.
”We have undertaken a huge range of missions in the last six and half months and it’s a fine example of the flexibility and agility of naval forces.
”It is fitting that a ship that has served her country so well for over 20 years has bowed out in such style.
”It is, of course, her crew that make Cumberland what she is: they have performed exceptionally throughout the deployment but especially when called upon to assist with the evacuation of personnel from Benghazi.
”The Libyan operation showed them at their best: professional; determined and compassionate. I am very proud of them.”
HMS Cumberland evacuated 454 people, including 129 British citizens during the Libyan crisis.