Three years ago, London Ambulance Service Paramedic Paige Stride and Police Officer Rob Wilkins met in a chicken shop after being called out to an emergency. It was of course after the emergency had been safely contained that the pair recall their eyes meeting amidst greasy, fast food delights and unflattering lighting. Fast forward three years and the two will be tying the knot just streets away from their unusual lovers’ meeting, in Regent’s Park after being gifted their dream wedding.
With a combined commitment of 12 years to their respective services, Paige and Rob have been working harder than ever to protect London’s streets since COVID-19 struck in 2020. Following their engagement mid-pandemic last year, like many others keen to tie the knot, they faced uncertainty regarding their big day. The pair agreed to take on as much overtime as possible, but thanks to recognition from a London venue for their dedication and service, the dream has now become a reality.
Regent’s Conferences and Events launched last year in a bid to track down some of the “country’s most conscientious key workers that had been faced with inimitable disruption to their wedding plans in light of COVID-19” said a spokesperson. As a result, the venue has gifted the key worker heroes a wedding worth £20,000.
Upon receiving the news, Paige said: “The situation is frankly incredible. We have both been blown away by the support shown by our friends, family and colleagues from both emergency services. Winning and being recognised as deserving such an incredibly special venue for the day, we can’t believe we get to marry our soulmate so close to where we met, in front of all of our colleagues and family. It truly is the wedding we have both imagined in our minds before we were even engaged. To see a team like Regent’s recognise and appreciate two emergency services and the (sometimes) thankless job we do has honestly filled our hearts with so much happiness – we’re on the verge of bursting!”
Rob said: “Working on the frontline this year has been a challenge. While it has been incredibly tough, it has also brought out the best in us and society at large in many ways, from looking after our neighbours to clapping for the NHS. We have all worked hard to support each other in ways we can. We have both worked insanely hard in order to protect and care for each other wherever we can, and we are so grateful to Regent’s for allowing us to celebrate our big day in a way we never otherwise would have been able to.”
Rafael Azzopardi, Conference and Events Manager at Regent’s commented on their decision, “After hundreds of humbling accounts from couples across the country, we are absolutely delighted to be able to offer such a special gift to a truly deserving couple. It’s been fantastic to see the recognition and tributes to so many emergency workers, charities and hard working volunteers, but we wanted to find a way of giving back with a measurable thank you to a couple who particularly deserve it, and Paige and Rob are that couple. The team were very moved by all the stories that were recounted and the final decision was tougher than we’d imagined.
“The emotional and financial implications for many during COVID-19, as well as the physical ones, have been vast and we’re so excited to deliver the dream day for a lovely couple who were let down by 2020 but have remained positive, committed and an honourable representation of the emergency services. We can’t wait to welcome Paige, Rob and 100 of their closest family and friends for a day to remember once restrictions are lifted.”
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