Video: Shark-filled tunnel of love - Norfolk butcher pops the question at Sea Life Centre

PUBLISHED: 16:03 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:21 11 March 2015

Ashley Sproston who proposed to his girlfriend Emma Moore at the Sealife Centre in Great Yarmouth. 

Picture: James Bass

Ashley Sproston who proposed to his girlfriend Emma Moore at the Sealife Centre in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A Norfolk butcher surprised his wife-to-be with an underwater proposal in a shark-filled tunnel of love.

Ashley Sproston took Emma Moore for what she thought was an ordinary trip to the seaside culminating in a visit to the Sea Life Centre, where they spent a fun family day last summer.

But the 28-year-old from Thetford had plotted with staff for three weeks to surprise his girlfriend of just over two years.

After waiting for other visitors to clear the tunnel the couple were commandeered by a staff member who started telling them all about the sharks and turtles in the tank.

But the tactic was just a ruse and unsuspecting Emma, from Carbrooke, was then asked to examine a fake mermaid’s purse from which she retrieved a sparkling diamond ring.

Surrounded by thousands of tropical fish and circling sharks Ashley then got down on one knee and popped the question.

Meanwhile two divers inside the 250,000 litre tank held up a sign saying ‘Emma will you marry me?’

Overcome with emotion the 23-year-old immediately said yes, triggering applause from visitors who had gathered nearby.

“It is just amazing,” she said. “I did not think he could do all this, especially without me knowing. I did not have a clue, but he did keep disappearing and I was wondering where. I just thought it was a normal day out. He can stop shaking now and enjoy the rest of the day in the sunshine.”

Ashley, who works for Tesco in Swaffham, said he was relieved all the elaborate planning and e-mailing had resulted a perfect proposal. The Sea Life Centre was special because it was the first time the couple, who each have a child from a previous relationship, enjoyed a family day out.

“I was going to do it on the London Eye,” he said. “But I could not really afford it. So I thought the next best place would be here because it has happy memories of our first day out. I was a bit nervous though.”

Now they are officially engaged the couple hope to marry in the next two years.

Sea Life general manager Terri Harris said Ashley had rung the Golden Mile attraction asking for its help and wondering what could be done. The impressive Ocean Tank was the obvious romantic location following a £500,000 refurbishment.

The mermaid’s purse was especially despatched from Weymouth and on the day around 10 staff were involved in the elaborate subterfuge - the trickiest part being getting the ring from Ashley and into the purse without raising suspicions.

“We were really thrilled to help them,” she said, adding that it was lovely that the centre would always be a special place for the happy couple.

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