Star plays Cupid by letter

LOVE is in the air thanks to The Evening Star.It was a million to one chance but a letter sent 1,200 miles to a British soldier serving in Kosovo ended in love, romance and a marriage this week.

By Amanda Cresswell

LOVE is in the air thanks to the Evening Star.

It was a million to one chance but a letter sent 1,200 miles to a British soldier serving in Kosovo ended in love, romance and a marriage this week.

The Star played cupid after Ipswich man, Matt King, appealed for a pen pal through its pages and Nicki McKenzie took up the offer.

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The lovebirds met for the first time just two months later when Matt was on leave in Ipswich and the couple hit it off straight away.

Matt, 30, proposed to Nicki last year and the couple are now putting their final touches for their wedding on Friday at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Ipswich.

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Prison officer Nicki, 25, invited The Star to the big day and said: "We would like to thank your newspaper for putting us together." After their wedding the couple will honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.

The chance encounter began when Nicki was on a night out with friends from the Territorial Army and popped in to an Indian restaurant on Norwich Road for a takeaway.

After placing her order she flicked through a copy of The Star when an article caught her eye about British soldiers serving in Kosovo.

"Being in the TA, I was interested in the army," said Nicki. "There was an address to write to for people interested in becoming pen pals. I wrote it down and found it in my purse a few days later.

"I thought I would give it a shot," she said. "But because of the time it takes for a letter to get to and from Kosovo I forgot about it."

But she was delighted with the response. The letters became more and more frequent and the pair met for the first time over a romantic meal in February 2000.

"It was like a blind date really and we hit it off," said Nicki. "We had so much in common it was quite scary." One of the things they found out about each other was they were both canoeing instructors.

They spent time apart as Matt was later posted to Germany. But he got down on one knee and proposed in The Priory Hotel in Bedford and they haven't looked back since.

Now they are living together in Warminster where Matt was posted in March this year.

Matt, a corporal in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, said: "Before I went out to Kosovo I wrote to The Star asking for pen pals and got about six replies.

"Nicki and I had loads of things in common. I wasn't nervous about meeting her because we knew a lot about each other. We got on really well. She is so easy got get on with, friendly, approachable and understanding."

His mother Lena McFarland, 56, of Wainwright Way in Kesgrave, said: "It is absolutely lovely how they met. I am so looking forward to seeing my son in uniform on the day."

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