Marriage proposal on market square

Charlotte Andrews and Wilf Banfield with Hornblower George Pickles. (Picture ' Hugh Leslie)
Charlotte Andrews and Wilf Banfield with Hornblower George Pickles. (Picture ' Hugh Leslie)

The Ripon Hornblower played an unexpectedly important role in a couple’s Valentine’s Day plans by overseeing their engagement.

After meeting in Harrogate three years ago, Wilf Banfield, 30, took his then girlfriend Charlotte Andrews, 29, for their first date in Ripon after being stationed there with 21 Engineer Regiment.

The couple went for a romantic dinner at the Old Deanery before Wilf took Charlotte to see the historic act of the Ripon Hornblower setting the watch.

With the couple being unable to spend their previous Valentine’s dates together, Wilf decided to recreate the date for this year’s celebration but this time, when Coun George Pickles asked if the watching audience had any questions, there was an added surprise.

In front of a bustling Market Place, Wilf raised his hand in response, got down on one knee and asked a “speechless” Charlotte the all-important question.

Charlotte said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked. It was a wonderful feeling that he did it there when it was the scene of our first date,more or less to the day three years ago.

“To involve the Hornblower as well was a little bit more special. It seems ridiculous but I did not expect it at all but looking back there were a few things out of the ordinary.

“He was based in Ripon for his job and so he took me to see the Hornblower which made the date special and unique because, even though I’m from Yorkshire, I had never heard of it. He was such a lovely person so it’s nice to have involved him.”

Wilf, from Hertfordshire, said there was a “definite possibility” that this would not be the last time that Ripon or the Hornblower would play an important role in their life with the wedding in mind.

He said: “It would be great if George could be there at the wedding in some way. I’m very excited to start planning it all but it’s only just hit me that I’m engaged.”

Charlotte agreed with her fiancé, adding: “We will definitely have the wedding up here. If we can use Ripon as the place where we can get married then that would be a bonus.”