Chester was the backdrop for a romantic Leap Day marriage proposal earlier today as 36-year-old Hayley Toone surprised her partner Tony Sloan by popping the question in the 5-star city centre Grosvenor Hotel .
Hayley surprised Tony with the proposal - while being serenaded by Chester choir A Handbag of Harmonies - after she won a competition to make her perfect Leap Day proposal come true. The competition was organised by the city's Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID.
Hayley arranged for the couple, who live in Long Eaton in Derbyshire, to visit Chester for the day. Unbeknown to Tony as they sat down for afternoon tea in the Grosvenor Hotel, Hayley had organised for the women's choir to sing a collection of the couple's favourite Beatles tunes.
Towards the end of the performance, the 30-strong choir flipped over sheets to reveal the words Tony Will You Marry Me? Through tears and a chorus of clapping from hotel guests, Tony said yes, prompting the choir to launch into a celebratory song.
Love is in the air
Following her proposal Hayley said: "It's been a perfect day and I'm so happy Tony said yes! We've been together for almost three years and I always knew he wanted to get married but, even though I love him dearly, I'd always talked him out of proposing to me!
"A friend of mine reminded me that it was a Leap Year this year and suggested I should follow the old tradition and propose to Tony on February 29th instead. So when I saw the CH1ChesterBID competition to win the perfect proposal, I thought I just had to go for it!"
Hayley decided to take the plunge after spotting a competition with CH1ChesterBID to win ??750 to create a perfect Leap Day proposal in Chester.
"Tony is from Cheshire originally and his family all live in or around Chester, so I knew this would be the perfect place to pop the question", added Hayley.
"He is a chef and he actually used to work at The Grosvenor Hotel. I'm a nurse so we rarely get time off together to visit the city or see his family, particularly as our weekends off are very rare. Luckily today fell on a Monday - our day off - and behind the scenes I've been working with the CH1ChesterBID team to create mine and Tony's perfect day."
Hayley put the prize money to good use, arranging an overnight stay at the Grosvenor Hotel with spa treatments and a personal shopping experience in Hugo Boss.
The couple will be heading to Chester’s Chez Jules restaurant – one of Tony’s favourites – this evening, where the couple’s friends and family will be waiting with champagne on ice to celebrate the good news.
Speaking after the proposal, 45-year-old Tony said: "I had absolutely no idea Hayley would do this! I can't believe how much effort she's put into the proposal and I couldn't be happier."
Julie Charlton, CH1ChesterBID's marketing manager, added: "We're over the moon to see Hayley's dream proposal brought to life in Chester, a place many people consider to be The Original City of Love. We've secretly orchestrated all of the details behind Tony's back, working with Hayley and a number of businesses throughout the city centre and we're thrilled that everything went to plan. but most importantly, that he said yes. We'd like to wish Hayley and Tony a very happy life together."