Ads the way to do it for loving pair

AN advert in a newspaper has turned nearly two decades of friendship into a life long marriage commitment.Russell Whitbread swept Julie Hayden off her feet by placing the romantic request in the Waveney Advertiser.

AN advert in a newspaper has turned nearly two decades of friendship into a life long marriage commitment.

Russell Whitbread swept Julie Hayden off her feet by placing the romantic request in the Waveney Advertiser.

Now the couple, who only realised their true feelings for each other in October, are planning to wed 18 years after they first met.

Julie, 39, who lives in Worlingham, first met Russell through mutual friends, but with them both living in different parts of the country they only caught up occasionally.


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Two years ago Julie's world was rocked when Russell, 36, fell into a coma following a near-fatal car accident. When they met again by chance last year the love-struck pair admitted to each other how they felt.

'It was quite weird as we spent all night talking and I was so happy to see him,' said Julie, who is originally from Essex. 'I thought, I really like him and I thought he liked me, we've been inseparable ever since.

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'We go back such a long way. There was a big group of us who used to go out around Essex and London and Russell was one of them and so was I.

'We were just friends, we never thought of each other in a romantic sense, but our paths always seemed to cross. When I found out about the accident it shattered my life at the time as we didn't know if he was going to pull through.'

Keen to cement their relationship the couple decided to waste no more time and agreed to get married, but Julie never expected the proposal to be so grand.

'I sent a cab driver to pick five copies of the Advertiser up from the Beccles and Bungay Journal office and I got them folded round with an elastic band so all she could see was the advert when they landed on the doorstep,' said Russell.

'I met my son Alfie from school, we came home and as we opened the door he said: 'There's some newspapers the other side of the door mum with your name on them'. I went in and I just ran up and down the hallway, I couldn't take it in, I couldn't believe it.

'I phoned Russell straight away and said yes!'

After recovering from the shock, Julie made her way to Essex to visit friends, but got more than she bargained for when Russell arrived at her friend's house, with yet another surprise.

'My friend said 'Julie, there's someone here for you' and there he was. I didn't know what to do, he got down on one knee with the ring and I just burst into tears. I ended up getting on my knees with him as I didn't know what else to do.'

Russell is now planning to wind down his flooring business in Sutton, Surrey and re-locate to Worlingham before the wedding on October 2 at Beccles' Waveney House Hotel.

'Neither of us have ever been married or ever felt like we wanted to get married,' said Julie. 'All his parents and my parents have ever wanted in our life was for us to be happy and everyone is just blown away.'

'It's a bit of a love story really,' added Russell.

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