Wartime singalong turns into sentimental journey for Norfolk couple

A 1940s singalong at a seaside theatre had a romantic ending when a marriage proposal took place live on stage.

The surprise “encore” saw Richard Olive get down on one knee to pop the question to girlfriend Julie Andrews after the audience had left the Sheringham Little Theatre event held during the recent 1940s weekend.

She said ‘yes’, and after hugs and tears, the couple walked out into the bar to be greeted by a dozen friends, singing Cliff Richard’s Congratulations, before toasting the magic moment with glasses of bubbly.

Richard, 55, transport supervisor at Norwich School, and Julie, 52, a sales assistant at Morrisons in Beccles, live in Loddon but are big fans of the 40s weekend.

Richard explained: “I had been thinking about proposing for a few months, but when my friend Gareth Davies, who is a member of the Sheringham Shantymen, got us tickets for the singalong it seemed like an ideal opportunity.

“It was a secret. Julie didn’t know a thing. When the show ended the cast asked us two to stay in the theatre while everyone left. Julie was asking what was going on, but I pleaded ignorance.

 “I walked her down towards the front, with her favourite tune – Andy Williams’ Moon River – playing over the speakers. She wanted to turn out of the exit, but I took her on to the stage,  and got down on my knee.

“The only other people watching were the singalong cast, who were up in the technical box.

“After she said ‘yes’ we composed ourselves to join our friends in the bar. It was brilliant and the theatre was faultless in making it all happen for us,” added Richard, who is a former Cub Scout leader and Kemp’s Men morris dancer.

He and Julie, who have five adult children and two grandchildren between them, met through online dating, and had their first date on Southwold Pier  three years ago. They plan to marry next May.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “We were delighted to help Richard and Julie stage their special moment at the theatre. We love happy-ever-after endings!”

PICTURES: Jeanette Bolton Martin.

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