Norwich couple’s special Christmas engagement

It was the perfect spot for a romantic Christmas proposal in a winter wonderland – but such moments may no longer be possible if fears that the woods could be lost to development are realised.

Families and walkers in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, have turned an ordinary holly tree into a magical Christmas snow scene as a festive way of showing how much they value the town's threatened woodlands.

And Thorpe bus driver John Ahorni chose to propose to fiancee Lynda Clarke beneath the snow-covered tree in the Belmore wood off Pound Lane.

The tree, on a popular route for dog walkers, has been decorated with baubles, decorations and messages of support for the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands and its campaign to stop the woods from housing develop- ment.

Miss Clarke, 45, who is a support worker, said: 'It was just magical. It was a special evening for us, being winter solstice, the lunar eclipse and the anniversary of our first meeting all rolled into one, and what better setting in the snow, under the moonlight, by the pretty holly tree in our woods?'

The couple were introduced through a friend and started a long-distance friendship as John is originally from the Faroe Islands.

Their Booty Road home backs on to the woods, and the tree is just a few minutes' walk away.

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Plans are being drawn up for at least 630 homes, and possibly as many as 800 homes, in a major development for the Belmore, Racecourse and Brown's Plantations off Salhouse Road, Plumstead Road East and Pound Lane.

The friends group says the plans would decimate the woods and decimate an important wildlife site.

More about the friends is at