Burnley man stages romantic Easter proposal to his teenage crush almost four decades after they met

A romantic Burnley man finally got the chance to pop the question to his teenage crush...almost four decades after they first met.

And Covid 19 certainly wasn't going to spoil the big day for Brian Heron when he got down on one knee to propose to Joanne Alderson-Bythell during a champagne picnic on Easter Sunday.

Classmates at the former Ivy Bank High in Burnley, the couple had hardly seen each other after they both left school, married and had families.

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Brian emigrated to Canada and Joanne lived all over the UK before returning to Burnley several years ago.

Brian Heron with his fiancee Joanne Alderson-Bythell after she accepted his romantic Easter Sunday proposal

They met up again two years ago, through mutual friends Brian had called to see while he was visiting family in Burnley, and he invited Joanne out for a drink... something he admits he never had the courage to do when they were teens!

Joanne said: "We just clicked instantly and that was it for us.

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"I knew that Brian lived in Canada and it would be a long distance relationship but I knew that was something we could both deal with."

The romance blossomed and the couple flew across the globe a couple of times to see each other until Brian finally decided to return back to the UK for good in May last year, resuming his job of 27 years working for Electricity North West as a high voltage cable jointer.

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Joanne and Brian met at school but only became a couple two years ago

Before hs return to England Brian had already commissioned a jeweller to make a diamond and sapphire engagement ring for Joanne which he kept hidden for months, waiting for the right time to ask her to marry him.

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Both are keen walkers and members of the Burnley Mountaineering and Fell Walking Club but due to the lockdown their activities have been curtailed. But undeterred they decided to go to one of their favourite spots in the hills above Cliviger which is in keeping with lockdown rules as it is an hour's walk from their home in Brunshaw.

With breathtaking views of the Singing Ringing Tree and Pendle Hill Brian thought it would be a memorable place for such a special moment to present Joanne with the ring he had designed himself.

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To throw Joanne off the scent, Brian presented her with the ring, which reflects his Scottish heritage with a Celtic love knot, in a large, white square shaped box!

Joanne said: "I thought it was a watch at first but then I opened it and there was a blue Wedgewood trinket box with a heron on it.

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"When I opened that I saw the ring and Brian said: 'Will you be my Mrs Heron then?'

"I was absolutely stunned, it was a total surprise and I can't believe he managed to keep it hidden from me all this time.

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"I never realised he was so romantic but the thought, time and effort he has put into this is just wonderful."

After Joanne, who works as a senior receptionist at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Blackburn, said 'yes' the couple shared the happy news to their families including the six children they have between them.

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Brian has two daughters Kirsty and Holly. His only son Josh died aged just 27 in December, 2018.

Joanne is mum to Louis (29) Samuel (27) 26-year-old Hannah and Harrison who is 16.

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The pair are now planning a belated engagement party in November which will also be a joint 50th celebration.

Joanne said: "It is something to look forward to after all the sadness, doom and gloom of the pandemic.

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"We want it to be a really big celebration for all our family and friends to share."