Sweethearts look forward to reunion

AS the Royal Navy's flagship leaves port today , one former Ipswich schoolboy will be hoping for her safe and prompt return.Ex-Copleston High pupil James Muir, 28, who serves on Ark Royal as a petty officer, is engaged to be married at the end of August – just two weeks after the multi-million aircraft carrier is due to come home.

AS the Royal Navy's flagship leaves port today , one former Ipswich schoolboy will be hoping for her safe and prompt return.

Ex-Copleston High pupil James Muir, 28, who serves on Ark Royal as a petty officer, is engaged to be married at the end of August – just two weeks after the multi-million aircraft carrier is due to come home.

But uncertainty about the role 20,000 ton vessel might play as Britain and America square up to Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein means that the wedding may have to be put on ice if Ark Royal is redeployed to the Gulf region en route to the Far East.

"We've got a three week window to get married," said PO Muir from his Shoreham-on-Sea home in Sussex. "So hopefully we'll be finished and back when we should be."


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His fiancée Louise is used to fast-changing situations – the 28-year-old serves as a photographer in the Royal Navy.

But the bride-to-be who is hoping to be in the frame herself this summer.

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"We've all got our fingers crossed – and we've taken out insurance," she said.

"Both being in the Navy makes it more difficult to see each other – we rarely see each other."

Electronic warfare officer PO Muir, who has also served on the navy's other carrier HMS Illustrious, joined the Navy aged 17 straight from school after attending Copleston High and spending one year in Northgate School's sixth form.

His parents Barrie and Jean, of Nine Acres, Ipswich, said they were "very proud" of their son – and are hoping he gets back safe, sound and in time to walk down the aisle.

A fervent Blues fan, he will not be the only one on board following Town's fortunes.

As first revealed in the Evening Star, the ship's skipper Alan Massey also hails from Ipswich and attended the then-Northgate grammar school.

Ark Royal will be supporting British interests abroad and "demonstrating continuing commitment to the security of the Gulf and Asia Pacific regions."

Captain Massey, a veteran of the campaign in Afghanistan, will be in command of the carrier in the task group, which includes the destroyer HMS Liverpool, the frigate HMS Marlborough, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers and supply ships and a Fleet submarine.

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