Two high-school sweethearts from Harrogate have revealed the love story behind their 'perfect' Christmas engagement.
Leigh-Ann Walker and Dan Chapman were fellow students and close friends at Harrogate High School (formerly Granby High School).
But after their magical engagement in the grotto at Tong Garden Centre on Christmas Eve, the couple have revealed that they were long-lost childhood sweethearts.
Leigh-Ann said: "We went through school together, we were in the same year and we were very close. But I left at 16 to start working and Dan continued onto sixth form and then joined the army.
"I had a huge crush on him at school... We would always sit together in art and I’d be sat there all shy. It wasn’t until we got together this year that Dan told me he always liked me at school."
After years apart, the couple were re-introduced through social media, and the rest was fate.
Leigh-Ann said: "He came up on friends you might know on Facebook and it took me about three hours to add him, the high school nerves came back. Then I messaged him and got an instant reply and that was that...
"He took me to Liverpool on our first date and it was like being back at school again, I’d never been so nervous... usually going on dates didn’t bother me but going on a first date with your high school crush is scary. I think we both knew instantly that something was there and we’ve been together ever since!"
On Christmas Eve, Dan popped the question by handing Leigh-Ann a surprise present box while they visited the garden centre grotto as a family.
Leigh-Ann said: "We’d spoken about marriage and having children, our future but he surprised me and got down on one knee on Christmas Eve with my mum, dad and my little boy there.
"It was amazing, perfect, it felt like something out of a movie! I was totally taken by surprise. I opened a box and it said "marry me" and then I just couldn’t help but cry happy tears."
The couple passed on their thanks to their family and all the staff at Tong Garden Centre who helped to make the magic happen and capture it all on video.
Marketing Manager at Tong Garden Centre, Pete Casci, helped to make the proposal possible.
He said: "We strongly believe in the magic of Christmas and this is something we try to create throughout our store with inspiring displays, family activities and, most of all, our Christmas Grotto experience.
"When we were contacted about the planned proposal for Christmas Eve back in November, it created such a buzz in store.
"We worked with the family for weeks to make sure everything was where it needed to be and waited for the magic to happen on the day with members of our team eagerly waiting for the couple at the exit to the Grotto to see the outcome.
"We were thrilled that the couple thought of us as a venue and couldn’t be happier that we were able to help create such a magical experience and we wish the couple nothing but happiness for the future."