Two Afghanistan war veterans are preparing to walk their girlfriends down the aisle after winning fairytale winter weddings – thanks to Shottle Hall.
The stately home, in White Lane, Belper, has awarded a Valentine’s Day wedding to Eddy Curr and his fiancé Helen Sindall, in a prize worth almost £5,000.
Eddy, 27, a former commando in the Royal Marines who served twice in Afghanistan and spent many years based overseas, will say ‘I do’ to partner Helen on February 14th next year.
The couple, who have two children, Sophie (two) and 11-month-old Oliver, have been together since 2008, but Eddy only proposed on Helen’s 30th birthday in June.
Helen, a teacher, said: “We just can’t believe we have won – we are absolutely thrilled because we fell in love with Shottle Hall, it is utterly beautiful and it’s a dream come true to have our wedding there.
“We have had some tough times –it was terrifying when Eddy was away in war zones. During his time over there a member of his unit was killed and I was constantly living in fear that he would be injured, or worse.
“We were introduced by Eddy’s mum Heather, who I worked with, but she very sadly died in 2011. She has left a huge hole in our lives, but I know she would be delighted that we are getting married and have won this lovely prize. We are absolutely thrilled.”
Belper floral hire company White Vandella has also offered its services free of charge for Helen and Eddy’s wedding too.
The runners-up, winning a wedding on February 16th, were Victoria Harrison and Sam Roome (22) who is currently serving with a Royal Engineer Search Team, a unit responsible for finding IED's in warzones.
Vicki, 22, of Oakwood, said: “Because Sam has been in the Army ever since we have been together our relationship has always been long distance, and I have had plenty of time to dream about our wedding. I can’t believe that our dream is actually coming true now thanks to Shottle Hall.
“Sam is based in Suffolk at the moment and comes home at weekends, but when he was in Afghanistan for six months we were only able to speak to each other once a week on a really rubbish phone line.
“His tour was incredibly dangerous – three of his unit died and eight were seriously injured. It is terrifying when they are away.
“We are both over the moon to have won a wedding and thrilled that we will be able to get married somewhere as stunning as Shottle Hall, it’s everything I dreamed of.”
The prizes include the hire of the hall, which is based in the heart of the Chatsworth estate, the exclusive use of all eight bedrooms overnight and breakfast for 16 guests the following morning.
Both couples can choose whether to marry in the shabby chic Coach House Ceremony Room, which adjoins the venue’s vintage marquee. Or they can tie the knot in the historic Victorian house itself, and stage their reception inside The Orangery with its star-studded twinkly ceiling.
Wedding coordinator Sarah Davis said: “Since we have just had Remembrance Sunday it seems particularly fitting that both our winners have served in the Armed Forces and put their lives in danger for their country.
“We are delighted to have such worthy winners and we are looking forward to working with all three couples to create three very special wedding days.
“Time is of the essence and all three brides have already met with our experienced team who will be on hand to help them every step of the way.”