Bride-to-be’s joy as soldier fiancé pops question with Afghan ‘penny’

Craven Herald: Bombardier Ben McDowell and Jolene Riley Bombardier Ben McDowell and Jolene Riley

Sutton-in-Craven bride-to-be Jolene Riley will soon be wearing a very special wedding ring – made from an Afghan penny.

Her fiancé, Bombardier Ben McDowell, carved it himself while he was on tour in Afghanistan, using just a rock, hammer and sandpaper.

"It is just so amazing and it means so much more to me knowing how much thought he has put into it,” said 19-year-old Jolene. “It is something unique that I can treasure for ever.”

Jolene said she could not believe her luck when Ben got down on one knee after just 10 months together and popped the question.

But she got an even bigger surprise when 24-year-old Ben showed her the ring he had carved from an Afghan coin.

She said: “Before Ben left for his nine-month tour of Afghanistan, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas.

“I don’t like him spending money on me, so I thought of the cheapest thing I could think of and asked for a penny from Afghanistan as a sentimental gift.

“That’s the only thing I have ever asked for from him, but obviously his mind went into overdrive and he thought up this amazing surprise.

“He isn’t usually the romantic type, so everyone has been completely shocked by what he has done.

“He proposed as soon as we got back to his house when he got home from Afghanistan. I wasn’t expecting it at all, but he was so nervous – his whole body was shaking.”

Jolene fell head over heels for soldier Ben after the pair started chatting online in June last year.

She added: “It was undoubtedly love at first sight from the very first time I met Ben.

“I even proposed to him while he was away in Afghanistan but he said it wasn’t a proper proposal, and he wanted to do everything right.

“So I was gobsmacked when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Romantic Ben spent three months painstakingly carving the ring before sending it back to UK jewellers Serendipity Diamonds to be gold plated. Not only did Ben handcraft the wedding ring for the love of his life, he also designed the white gold engagement ring he proposed with – all from his Army base in Afghanistan.

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