THE winners of an armed forces wedding competition are set to tie the knot at a fabulous ceremony at Castle Hill, in Filleigh, on Friday. Lance Corporal Andy Thomas, from Combe Martin and Karly Goodman, from Ilfracombe, beat more than 30 entrants to win a

THE winners of an armed forces wedding competition are set to tie the knot at a fabulous ceremony at Castle Hill, in Filleigh, on Friday.

Lance Corporal Andy Thomas, from Combe Martin and Karly Goodman, from Ilfracombe, beat more than 30 entrants to win a one-off wedding package of goods and services worth in excess of £20,000.

The couple were chosen by a panel of judges representing more than 20 North Devon businesses which have donated everything from rings, flowers and photographer, to cake, champagne and canapés.

L Cpl Thomas suffered serious injuries when he was dragged under the tracks of a Viking vehicle in the confusion of a conflict in Helmand Province, during his second tour in Afghanistan.

After regaining full health and returning to active service, the Chivenor-based Royal Marine will now marry fiancée Karly before returning to Afghanistan for a third tour of duty next year.

The wedding gift grew from an idea by Kieron Freeburn, of Holsworthy-based Classic Carriages, who initially decided to offer their Rolls-Royce cars as a small token gesture of appreciation for the work of local servicemen and women.

"There has been an outpouring of generosity from the business community of North Devon which has seen the value in supporting and celebrating the armed forces and the work that they do," said Mr Freeburn.

"Almost every conceivable element of the wedding package has been donated by local firms and we are now very much looking forward to what should be a fabulous one-off wedding on Friday.

"It will no doubt be a fairytale occasion for this young couple as well as a fitting testament to the generosity and goodwill of businesses and individuals throughout North Devon."

The couple will enjoy their ceremony and wedding breakfast at Lady Arran's Castle Hill estate before heading off for a privately-organised reception in Ilfracombe. Members of the public are being invited to watch a falconry display at Castle Hill and wave the happy couple off at around 4pm.

For a full report and pictures, see next week's North Devon Gazette.