Manuel's romantic proposal at Southampton airport

Manuel Bleul pops the question to his girlfriend Francine Kingma at Southampton Airport

All smiles after Francine accepts Manuel's marriage proposal

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

IT could have been a proposal scene in a Hollywood movie.

Love was definitely in the air as Manuel Bleul got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend Francine Kingma at Southampton Airport three years after they met there by pure chance.

A message went out on the airport tannoy for Francine to look at the arrivals screen, which then, after a slight technical hitch as the screen froze, came up with “Francine will you marry me?”.

Then Manuel got out a ring and got down on one knee.

As a shocked Francine said yes, the couple embraced and were applauded by those in the airport watching on.

Like the proposal, you could not have scripted the way the happy couple, of Charnwood Way, Langley, first met.

Both were waiting for a flight back to Frankfurt during the snow chaos of December 2010 while Francine, 27, was studying at Bournemouth University and Manuel was working at the Esso refinery in Fawley.

They grew up 50 miles apart in Germany and agreed they would probably never have met if not for the airport.

The pair first noticed each other while queuing at the security check-in as they tried to get home for Christmas.

After the flight was cancelled they rebooked to come back the next day, but the woman at the desk, who presumed they were a couple, booked them on one ticket.

Because of this Francine agreed to use Manuel’s spare room in Langley overnight.

Over the next five days flights were cancelled or full so they decided to fly to Dusseldorf and hire a car.

They got to know each other during this time and, though seeing other people at the time, six weeks later when they were single they got back in contact.

Even on the way there Francine had remarked on the significance of where they were going, but never guessed the real reason.

Her grandmother Else Wya Kingma, 76, had come over from Germany while family had invented an excuse for Francine and Manuel to be at the airport to talk to airport staff about a catering event.

“It was a complete surprise, he couldn’t have done it any better,” said Francine, who works in market research in Hedge End.

“I couldn’t be any happier.

It’s perfect.”

Manuel, 32, who still works for Esso, said: “She said yes, that’s the main thing – it would have been a bit embarrassing if she’d said no.”

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