Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Saturday, 2 August 2008 15:58 UK

Marriage proposal couple rescued

Colin Howell and Miriam Light
The couple were in full evening wear and had enjoyed a champagne picnic

Two lovers were rescued as they drifted out to sea following a romantic marriage proposal in a dinghy.

Colin Howell, 35, enjoyed a champagne picnic with his girlfriend, Miriam Light, 26, before setting out from Cromer in Norfolk to pop the question.

The alarm was raised on Friday night after onlookers from Cromer Pier saw the boat more than a mile from the beach in windy conditions.

The couple, dressed in full evening wear, were rescued by a fishing boat.

But Mr Howell, a keen surfer from Cromer, insisted he and his freelance photographer girlfriend were both strong swimmers and were never in any trouble.

"We knew what we were doing," he said. "I had been waiting for a calm day and last night seemed perfect.

"I paddled out and got past Cromer Pier, then brought the oars in and got down on one knee.

"It was perfect, Miriam cried and said: 'yes', it was wonderful.

"I had bought a vintage diamond ring and it fitted Miriam perfectly. The sun was setting, we even had a rainbow.

"Then, about 10 minutes later, our plans were disrupted when a man on a fishing boat said the coastguard had been called and that he would take us ashore."

'Sealed the evening'

By now, a small crowd had gathered on the beach to watch the rescue operation.

"A fishing crew from Sheringham tugged us back towards Cromer to an applauding crowd on the beach, so we had a wide audience and it just sealed the evening really.

"I was dressed in a tweed waistcoat and bow tie," said Mr Howell, who works as a currency designer in London.

"I have quite a few friends in Cromer and thought 'this is not what I want to be seen to be doing'.

A coastguard spokeswoman said the lifeboat crew was "surprised" when they met the couple.

"Instead of the normal garb, they had evening wear on," she said. "It wasn't quite what they expected to find."

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