Former pupils get engaged during assembly at St Alban’s Catholic High School
17:32 29 February 2016
It was the sound of wedding bells that were chiming through the halls of an Ipswich school yesterday as a brave former pupil stood up in assembly to teach his own lesson in romance.
Unsuspecting bride-to-be Jeanelle Hume thought she was returning to St Alban’s Catholic High School to play a part in its 50th anniversary celebrations and to share her memories of studying there more than two decades ago.
Headteacher Colin Walker led the assembly, which was based around the upcoming European Union referendum, explaining to the pupils that it was all about making decisions based on balanced judgements.
Jeanelle, 38, was then invited on stage along with partner Paul Forde, 39, and around 10 of their past classmates, unaware that she would be making an important decision of her own.
Standing in the building that they first met as teenagers, Paul got down on one knee to ask Jeanelle to marry him. And with teary eyes, she said “yes”.
“Jeanelle is a traditionalist so she was supposed to ask me on February 29, but it didn’t turn out that way,” Paul said. “I’m relieved she said yes and of course I am completely elated.”
While saving up over the past six months to buy an engagement ring for Jeanelle, Paul had to find an excuse for not bringing as much money into the house, pretending that he had lost £600 at the bookies.
Paul also had to get the school’s business manager Seán Salter in on the ruse by sending out letters to teachers and pupils inviting them to a ‘special 50th anniversary assembly’.
“I was so shocked, I was overwhelmed with good emotions, really pleased,” Jeanelle said. “I’m still trying to process it all.”
The couple, who left the school in 1993, were nothing more than good friends until they met again two-and-half-years ago in a shop that Jeanelle worked in - but who made the first move they both disagree on.
They now have a seven-month-old son, Eden, and live together in Ipswich.
Seán said it was the first wedding proposal the school had hosted in its 50-year history.
“I’m really thrilled to be a part of celebrating their special moment,” he added.
“It’s good for the students to see and hopefully it will give Jeanelle and Paul some very happy memories.”