I do - again!

THE best things come to those who wait - and that adage was certainly true for our Valentine competition winners Chris and Mel Freeman who finally got they wedding night they planned 23 years ago.

Friday, 19th February 2010, 8:30 am

The couple had arranged for their evening reception and wedding night to be held at the Gomersal Park Hotel when they married in October 1986.

However with just weeks to go before the wedding, the then owner, John Charles, went out of business and the hotel closed down, leaving them frantically trying to find another venue.

So when the Reporter Series teamed up with the hotel a few weeks ago to offer one couple a special Valentine prize of a three-course dinner, an overnight stay and breakfast, Mel knew she had to enter.

Her story touched the heartstrings of the judges and at the weekend the couple, from The Burrows, Birstall, got the star treatment they had planned all those years ago.

"It was fabulous," said Melanie, who works in the finance department of Carlton Cards in Dewsbury.

"I was giddy before we set off, and then when we arrived to find we had the bridal suite I couldn't stop squealing, I was so excited.

"The meal was superb - everything about the weekend was fantastic and definitely worth waiting 23 years for!

"When Gomersal Park closed down we were left frantically trying to find somewhere else. We ended up at a place called the Darby Hotel in Gelderd Road, Gildersome. It was a nightclub, and they said that they could accommodate us in the function room - the only thing was that when it came to 11pm, they'd have to open the doors to the general public!

"It was so strange having all those strangers at our wedding, and they thought I was in fancy dress!

"It wasn't the wedding we planned, but it was certainly memorable!"

The couple, who have two children, 21-year-old Sally and 19-year-old Matthew, took along one of the original invitations to their Valentine weekend.

"The romance has definitely not gone out of our relationship," added Melanie.

"Like all couples we've had our ups and downs. Chris, who is now a van driver with APC, Huddersfield, has been made redundant a couple of times, but we've always said that we can get through anything because we're all together as a family."

The couple added their thanks to the hotel and its staff for making their stay so memorable.