Todmorden woman takes the plunge to propose in shark infested tank

� Joel Goodman. Rachel Ottery and Sean Driscoll
� Joel Goodman. Rachel Ottery and Sean Driscoll

A Todmorden woman took the plunge and faced her fear of sharks- by jumping three metres into a tank infested with the ocean-dwelling predators.

In a bid to convince her partner, Sean Driscoll, 47, to say yes to her proposal, Rachel decided it was time for her to face her own fears on Leap Day to prove how much he means to her.

The tank at SEA LIFE Manchester, where Rachel, 45, proposed was full of sharks, including Blacktip sharks and Brown Banded Bamboo sharks and they and other marine life watched on in anticipation as Rachel awaited Sean’s answer.

To everyone’s delight, he didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

Rachel, from Todmorden, said: “February 29 came as the perfect opportunity for me to turn the tables and ask for Sean’s hand in marriage.

“We started as great friends and the chemistry was just too hard to ignore.

“So we married in 1993 but due to different circumstances, we decided to part in 2001 and stay very close friends. Two years later, we knew we were just meant to be together and our relationship was back on track and I knew I had to take advantage of this leap year and ask him to marry me.

“I was nervous about asking Sean as I have previously mentioned marriage to him but he’s often dismissed it, saying that he’s tried it once before- I think I may have scared him out of the idea.

“But I want to be with this man for all eternity. Sean holds the key to my heart and soul. He means everything to me. People wouldn’t say we had the perfect relationship but then who has?”

“I am petrified of sharks, to the point I won’t get in a swimming pool without walking around it several times first to make sure there’s nothing in there.

“Bu it wa all was worth it in the end, as Sean said yes in front of our three children and two grandchildren.

“I faced my fears and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. This was a pivotal moment for me. Not only did I face my fears of sharks, the man who I know I am destined to be with faced his fear of marriage and I cannot wait for my future with him as his wife.”

The leap year was once not a recognised day by English law and it was therefore acceptable for women to break convention, with ladies proposing to the men rather than the other way around.

James Thomas, general manager at SEA LIFE Manchester, said: “We can get some unusual requests but this was definitely at the top of the list. As soon as Rachel contacted us, we couldn’t wait to help out and give her and Sean a proposal to remember.

“Knowing that she also had a fear of sharks, we now feel that we have helped her to understand that these fascinating and incredible sea creatures are just as curious as humans and are beautiful in their own right. We hope today she will walk away feeling elevated and wish her all the best for her life together with Sean.”