Wedding couple say 'thanks for the memories'

THE winners of an armed forces wedding competition have thanked North Devon businesses for a dream day at Filleigh s Castle Hill estate. Lance Corporal Andy Thomas, from Combe Martin and Karly Goodman, from Ilfracombe, tied the knot on Friday at a lavish

THE winners of an armed forces wedding competition have thanked North Devon businesses for a dream day at Filleigh's Castle Hill estate.

Lance Corporal Andy Thomas, from Combe Martin and Karly Goodman, from Ilfracombe, tied the knot on Friday at a lavish �20,000 ceremony contributed by local firms.

The spectacular event at the Earl and Countess of Arran's stately home has made national headlines and the couple have been touched by the generosity of more than 20 businesses that donated everything from rings, flowers and photographer, to cake, champagne and canap�s.

"We couldn't believe it - we could never have afforded a wedding like this ourselves," said Karly.


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"Andy's mum Chris nominated us a few weeks after we became engaged and we didn't hear anything so forgot all about it.

"I was having dinner at my dad's on a Saturday night in March when I got the telephone call to tell me that we'd been chosen as the winning couple. I was hysterical when I found out and couldn't even talk."

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The couple were selected from around 30 entrants by judges, who were heard how Chivenor-based Royal Marine Andy was injured during his second tour in Afghanistan.

The big day has topped off what has been a whirlwind last few weeks for the 23-year-old newlyweds, who celebrated the birth of Karly's second son Leyton just nine weeks ago.

"Things have been really hectic and I have never been so busy in my life," said Karly. "I was worried that I wouldn't fit into my dress after giving birth and it was nerve-wracking getting married in front of all the television cameras, but everything went smoothly on the day."

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

Mr Freeburn said the fairytale occasion was a fitting testament to the generosity and goodwill of businesses and individuals throughout North Devon.

But while the couple enjoyed a night at the Saunton Sands Hotel on Saturday night as part of the package, there'll be no dream honeymoon just yet as Andy is due to report back to barracks for training this week ahead of a third tour in Afghanistan next year.

"We couldn't believe how much interest it created and I had a call from the producers of Daybreak this morning," added Karly on Monday morning.

"We'd like to say a massive thank-you to everyone who made the day extra-special; we couldn't have done it without their generosity."

The business that contributed to the wedding are: Lady Arran (Castle Hill wedding venue); Classic Carriages (Rolls-Royce wedding cars); Frilly Frocks (designer wedding gown); Blue Hawk Photography (wedding photography); Posh Nosh Catering (canap�s plus catering brigade and serving staff); Filers Travel (two luxury executive coaches); R & L Digital Video (wedding video service); Sue's Florist (flowers and floral decorations); Bovey Castle (wedding accommodation); Northcote Manor (wedding accommodation); Taittinger (fine champagne wines); Rosanne Hollowell (bespoke wedding cake); Mole Valley Farmers (sponsors of the wedding breakfast); Coombes Menswear (gentlemen's outfits); Ambience Devon (decorative chair covers); Julies Mobile Hair and Beauty (bridal make-up and hair); Wish Upon a Star (wedding organiser); Deja Blue Jazz (music duo); North Devon Falconry (bird of prey display); Archant Publishing (glossy magazine special feature); Hand in Hand Designs (balloons and wedding favours); Catherine Bishop (wedding rings); Brend Hotels (wines for the wedding breakfast).

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