CLASS ACT: Wedding proposal take childhood sweethearts back to school

Matt Bettinson and Emma McCormack in their old classroom at Saint John Houghton CVA in Ilkeston. Photo contributed.
Matt Bettinson and Emma McCormack in their old classroom at Saint John Houghton CVA in Ilkeston. Photo contributed.

The last time Emma McCormack was in a classroom at Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy she was answering questions in French.

Twelve years on and she was answering the most important question of her life – a marriage proposal from boyfriend Matt Bettinson in the room where they first met.

The plan to propose at Saint John was put into by action by Matt with help from three of their school friends, headteacher Joan McCarthy and academy acting caretaker Bill Pearce.

Matt, 27, lured Emma to the Ilkeston academy on the pretence of picking their friend and French teacher Conor Riley up before heading on to Ilkeston Fair - the scene of their first date.

When they arrived, Mrs McCarthy offered to take them to Conor and showed them into their old classroom which was decorated with candles and lanterns.

Matt got down on one knee and popped the question to a shocked Emma, who said yes, and the childhood sweethearts, of Smalley, are now discussing wedding plans.

Matt, who works in IT in Nottingham, said he was relieved that everything went to plan and thanked the academy for helping to make it all happen.

He said: “I just thought it would be great to propose in our old classroom, where I asked her to be my girlfriend 12 years ago to the day, but I did wonder what the chances were of actually making it happen.”

Emma, a dental hygienist, said she had no idea what Matt had been planning.

She said: “I was so shocked as I’d almost given up hope of it actually happening. I thought it was a bit strange when the headteacher was in school late in the evening, and when I saw the room I just wondered what was going on.

“I wondered why Conor wasn’t there and why there were lots of candles. Then Matt asked me to sit down in my old chair and proposed. It was surreal as it was the first time I’d been back to school since leaving.”