AN EX-DETECTIVE who found love in the most tragic of circumstances is tying the knot next month.
Lydia Hewson, 35, from Hargrave, was a member of a Cheshire police team flown out to Thailand in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami to perform the grim task of identifying the dead so they could be returned to their loved ones.
Her stint proved to be eventful yet short-lived because she and her colleagues got caught up in a second and frightening tsunami scare and a mini-bus crash claimed the life of colleague Kevin Brinkman.
The traumatised team was pulled out after just eight days but one positive outcome was that she met Andy McKelvey, 49, a sergeant with Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, who was working on the same operation.
Five years later and the pair are set to marry in Thailand on the exact same beach at Bang Tao Bay where Lydia jokingly says they “clapped eyes on each other”, this time surrounded by family and friends. Two mortuary attendants from Sweden with whom they “bonded” during the intense experience of 2004, are also flying out for the ceremony.
Looking back, Lydia explained that those few days in Thailand proved life-changing and she decided to take time out from the police and travel solo around the world.
In the early days she and Andy were just friends, although there was always “a spark”, and they kept in touch via email and telephone.
It was only when Andy flew out to meet Lydia in Canada that their friendship blossomed into a full blown romance.
“Meeting somebody 10 months down the line was quite nerve-racking,” said Lydia. “We were thrown into the pot together, travelling together, neither could get away, but I was worrying over nothing. Andy showed up and from the minute we were together again – I know it’s an old cliché – but we just sort of knew and we spent three wonderful weeks together.”
Today Lydia and Andy live together in Hayle, Cornwall, where she runs a B & B and Andy is still with the police. They exorcised any ghosts about Thailand on a holiday there last year.
And after a ceremony attended by among others, her mum and dad Kate and Harry from Hargrave, the couple will go back-packing around the “beautiful country” for their honeymoon.
A reception for those unable to make it to Thailand will be held at Cheshire View on December 11.