The proposal was like something out of a Hollywood movie. On Christmas morning, as Derry woman Avril Lappin ate breakfast with her partner Bob on a sunkissed beach in Florida a plane flew overhead emblazoned with the message ‘Avie, I love you. Will you marry me?”
“I was screaming with joy. Bob was on his knees and he proposed. I was crying and laughing. Of course I said yes!” Avril said.
What makes this story all the more worthy of the Hollywood treatment is that, as reported in the Journal last year, Avril and Bob had been apart from almost 50 years when they rekindled their romance just two years ago.
The pair had courted in the early 60s when Bob was stationed with the US navy in Campsie, and Avril, from Kennedy Place, was working in a local factory.
However the couple had split when Bob returned to his native America and took “cold feet” about his proposal the woman he calls ‘his Avril’. Always regretting his mistake Bob was delighed to find that Avril was still alive when he returned to Derry in 2007 - thanks to a letter she had written to the Derry Journal.
Although she was now living in the US, the pair made contact again and were finally reunited in 2010.
With determination typical of a Derry woman. Avril made Bob (the ‘love of her life’) work hard on his proposal.
“Bob had been asking me to marry him, all of last year. But I told him, it should have a wee bit more romance to it, than just a straight proposal!”
Taking on the challenge Bob asked Avril’s sons Kevin and David for their mother’s hand in marriage and Avril and the three men in her life decided to breakfast on the beach on Christmas morning. It was then the plane flew by, six times.
“It was lovely to have the three men in my life that I love the most, share in all of this. I will never forget it!.”
The couple are now deciding when and where to get married - and neither are ruling out a wedding on the banks of the Foyle.
I love the idea of getting married in Derry.
“We would then have completly come full circle. I still love those old stones of my hometown best of all.”
Avril and Bob, both now 70 are very looking forward to their future. “I feel love has brought us back together to share this life for a long time. We are blessed!”