Published 8th March 2012
Following winter maintenance at the Mid-Hants Railway, A1 No. 60163 Tornado undertook some running in turns by hauling MHR service trains over February 25-26. The BR Brunswick green loco sported a slightly revised look during these operations, the later BR crest now being present on the tender sides rather than the earlier emblem.
The loco was also in action on February 29 when the MHR was ‘taken over’ by romantic novel publisher, Mills & Boon, in connection with their ‘dream proposal’ competition. The winner, Fiona Boubert, was taking advantage of the leap year date to propose to her partner on their own private steam train during an on-board three-course champagne lunch. He did say yes – in front of TV cameras!
29th February is traditionally the only day a woman can propose to her partner, and this year champions of romance Mills & Boon have run a national search to find the UK’s most romantic woman and create her dream proposal scenario. Throughout their 100 year history, Mills & Boon’s authors have always been inspired by romantic trends contemporary with the time of their writing, and the publisher are delighted to continue this tradition by encouraging women to take control of their romantic destiny this leap year.
Mills & Boon received over 100 entries – ranging from popping the question on the Saharan set of Star Wars, to flying a flag from the top of Ben Nevis – but the outstanding entry came from Fiona Boubert, whose dream is to propose to her partner whilst dining on a private steam train.
Fiona, a civil servant in her mid-40s, met her partner Neil, through mutual friends in 2009. They had their first kiss at a railway station, and then spent the first year of their relationship commuting between Hartlepool and Edinburgh on the East Coast line, until Neil moved to Scotland in 2010. As train journeys will always hold fond memories for the couple and Neil loves vintage trains, Fiona asked Mills & Boon to create the ultimate romantic moment on their own private steam train.
Working with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the team behind the iconic brand-new Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive Tornado, Mills & Boon took over the Watercress Line in Hampshire on 29th February, giving the couple not only their own steam train, but their own private line for the day. Tornado took the couple through the Hampshire hills, while being served a three course champagne lunch in a beautifully restored Pullman dining car.
Tara Benson, of Mills & Boon UK said “I’m chuffed that Mills & Boon made this modern marriage proposal so romantic for Fiona and Neil. This leap day, Fiona will take one giant leap for womankind. Romance readers know that women are as responsible as men for creating and maintaining the romance in their relationships. At Mills & Boon we loved the super-contemporary leap day proposal combined with the classic romance of steam trains and champagne. We wish the couple a very romantic happy ever after.”
Mark Allatt, of A1 Steam said “When we built Tornado we were helping to recreate the romance of steam and we are delighted that Tornado is able to be a part of Fiona and Neil’s own steamy proposal. We wish them every happiness.”