Guest at Longleat Forest gets more sparkle than expected on her winter break…

Jessica Withers thought she and her boyfriend James Sellick were about to enjoy their annual photo session at Prêt-a-Portrait. But James had other ideas

James popped the question during a break to Longleat Forest
James popped the question during a break to Longleat Forest
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James popped the question during a break to Longleat Forest
James popped the question during a break to Longleat Forest

Center Parcs fan Jessica will have a very merry Christmas this year, as James, her boyfriend of over eight years, popped the question during their break at Longleat Forest.

Theatre Manager James and his childhood sweetheart Jessica, a midwife from Somerset, first met on stage in 2004 in a production of Grease. Now, a decade later, the pair had another special moment in front of the camera as romantic James planned his surprise proposal at Prêt-a-Portrait, during their annual photo session this week.

James says: “Center Parcs was the first holiday we ever had as a couple. We wanted to remember the occasion and decided to book a couples photo session at Prêt-a-Portrait. Since then, we try to visit every time we have a break at Center Parcs to have a memento. We’ve loved the photos; they’ll help us remember happy times together here.”

A plan comes together…
And so with a little help from his friends and the team at Longleat Forest, James worked to make this break the most memorable yet. But did the hard work pay off? “She said ‘yes’ and all went according to plan! he says.” “We’ve been together for over eight years so I didn’t think it would come as a surprise; some might have even said ‘about time!’

“But I was very nervous; I didn’t sleep the night before and it was quite a task to get Jessica to the studio without giving the surprise away. My closest friends were at the studio just before us to help set up and decorate. Jessica didn’t guess what I was doing until our song – Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars – played, then there was a flood of happy tears. She loved the ring.”

After some celebratory pictures for their growing photo album, the happy couple celebrated in style. “We drank Champagne before returning to our Lodge,” says James. “Meanwhile our friends who, unbeknown to Jessica, were also staying at the Village, had decorated our Lodge including a full outdoor lighting display. Another six friends joined us on day passes and we spent the afternoon and evening celebrating, watching the amazing fireworks display. A fantastic day and lots of happy memories.”

Ahhh, we love a happy ending. Congratulations to Jessica and James; if you have had any big celebrations or surprises during a break share your stories below.

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Amy Dickson

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Amy Dickson

As Brand Content Manager I plan, create and curate the best articles, photos, videos and music for our channels, in particular the blog. With a degree in Journalism under my belt and many years’ experience in the big smoke as a journalist and editor, my focus is firmly on discovering the little gems hidden away in Center Parcs life, before buffing them up to make them sparkle online. From on-village events to the latest travel industry trends, I’ll be there – notepad in hand – to bring you the most entertaining and interesting stories.