Valentine's Day competition: Most romantic couple chosen for luxury British Pullman steam train lunch

News Shopper: Jo-Ann Fish-Halvorsen and her husband Dan, with their daughter Jasmine Jo-Ann Fish-Halvorsen and her husband Dan, with their daughter Jasmine

NEWS Shopper will tomorrow be sending one lucky couple off on a Valentine’s Day to remember after our search for the area’s most romantic couple.

For our Valentine’s Day competition we were inundated with entries from people telling us sometimes amusing and often very moving stories about their relationships.

We loved reading about how couples met, unforgettable marriage proposals, overcoming adversity and the special little things people do to keep love burning.

News Shopper: British Pullman

The quality was very high and picking one winner was a very difficult task.

After much deliberation, Jo-Ann Fish-Halvorsen and her husband Dan, from Bexley, were chosen as the most romantic couple.

Jo-Ann, 37, and Dan, 43, will be spending Valentine’s Day aboard the British Pullman, sister train to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Leaving from London Victoria, they will be enjoying a luxurious four-course lunch on board the steam train.

News Shopper: Orient Express

We now share the very heartfelt and moving entry from Jo-Ann:

“I met my husband (Daniel) in 1993 when I was 18 and he was 24. He was a friend of my eldest brothers and I fancied him like mad! What made me love him was the fact that two years before I got with Daniel he had broken his neck playing rugby and had spent a year paralysed in hospital. He was now up on his feet (just about) and I loved the way that he wanted to grab life by the horns again and not let his disability stop him from doing anything! Much to my brothers’ upset we soon started dating and became a couple.

“We had so much fun and laughter, always out dancing and with friends. Although Daniel was my first real love, I knew I'd been lucky enough to meet my match first time around.

In August 1999, Daniel proposed whilst on holiday in a lovely little restaurant overlooking the sea. He made a bit of a blunder of the proposal as he was so nervous, his proposal went along the lines of “so will you?” and due to his rugby injury he was unable to get down on one knee! Regardless of the proposal I had no doubt that this was the person I wanted to be with for better or worse for the rest of my life.

“Six years later we were blessed with a gorgeous girl through IVF which we had been told was very unlikely due to Daniel's accident. Our little family was complete and we couldn't be happier. The happiness was a bit short lived as when my daughter was five months old my husband was diagnosed with another serious illness.

“For six long years he battled the illness. He was given a trial drug from America that could hold the illness at bay for a certain period of time. I'm not particularly religious but I prayed and I asked everyone I met to pray for it to go completely - a complete miracle happened and the illness disappeared. Everyone including the doctors were amazed and baffled by such an amazing result. We live for every minute and every day now. The good lord had smiled down on us.

“Throughout all of the past seven years of dark days and treatments, my husband has been an absolute trooper. When he is down I pick him up and love him and when I am down he cheers me along, cuddles me and makes me look at the positives of life that we still have today together and how lucky we are for our lovely daughter.

“He buys me flowers every week and has done for years, even through his treatment and feeling ill, he always managed to buy me flowers. We love going out dancing together still (even though our moves aren't so sleek anymore). Dan has three monthly scans and on the night before the scan results we go out for a meal to remind ourselves what we have got and that if those results are bad in the morning, we still have each other.

“Please don't read this as a sob story, it isn't, we have nothing to sob about, only lots to celebrate.

“This is a love story that shows whatever has come our way we have conquered with love and passion and friendship. Dan has said to me before that he wished we hadn't met and I hadn't had to go through these hard times with him but if I had the choice I’d go through them another 100 times if it meant being with Dan.

“He's always been the most amazing person to get up from two very tough life-threatning things but to have supported me through them all. I'd love nothing more than for him to win this amazing trip as I can't think of anyone who deserves it more and I know how totally chuffed he would be.

“If he doesn't win, I'm sure he'll be happy with the brekkie in bed and box of chocs because that's Dan.”

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