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Romantic teacher proposes in front of pupils at St John’s in Waterloo

Teachers Ashley Duff and Ruth Watkins

A ROMANTIC teacher went down on one knee in front of more than 200 schoolchildren, parents and staff to propose to his girlfriend.

Ashley Duff shocked his partner and teaching colleague Ruth Watkins by asking for her hand in marriage in front of a festive assembly.

Year 4 teacher Ms Watkins described the proposal as being “like a real-life fairy tale” as she said “yes” in front of cheering pupils.

Students at St John’s Church of England Primary School had gathered for a special end-of-term assembly on Tuesday afternoon. After the pupils at the Waterloo school received awards and certificates for their hard work it was announced Year 5 teacher Mr Duff was leaving for another school in January.

He thanked staff and students for their support before surprising Ms Watkins with the dramatic proposal.

Mr Duff revealed: “I said ‘There’s just one more left I would like to thank, another teacher, would you mind Ms Watkins if you come to the front?’

“Bearing in mind this is in front of all the children, staff and parents – about 240 people – I got to the front, said me and Ms Watkins spent a lot of time together, share a car together and have become close.

“[I said] There’s a question I would like to ask her, reached into my pocket and all the children went ‘aww’ and I asked her to marry me. There was so much roaring and cheering from the pupils that nobody heard what she said. Then when it died down one of the parents said: ‘what’s your answer Miss?’ Then she said ‘yes’ and there were hugs and kisses.”

The couple have been dating since January and Mr Duff had been planning the proposal for a few weeks, though he was full of nerves on the day.

Delighted she had accepted his offer, the 35-year-old added: “People were crying, it was a very emotional time... people are saying it was a brave move but I could think of no better way to do it.”

Ms Watkins, 28, had no idea her boyfriend had been planning the proposal.

She said: “Honestly, I didn’t know. I thought ‘What did he want me at the front for?’ Next thing I knew he was down on one knee. I was just shocked.

“He was going for the element of surprise and he got that. I just gasped and covered my mouth with my hand and then the children erupted with noise. He put the ring on my finger and everyone clapped and cheered. It was lovely... it was almost like a real-life fairy tale.”

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