Three years ago, London Ambulance Service Paramedic Paige Stride and Police Officer Rob Wilkins met at a time of adversity. Now, during the most challenging period of both of their careers, another miracle has come out of difficult times.
Following their engagement mid-pandemic last year, the pair from North London, like many others, faced uncertainty while hoping to plan their big day. Thanks to recognition from London venue Regent’s Conferences & Events for their tireless professional commitment and service over the past 12 months, they have now been gifted a dream wedding.
With a combined commitment of 12 years to their respective services, the couple have been working harder than ever to protect London’s streets since COVID-19 struck. Through London Ambulance Service, Paramedic Paige was called to an emergency in a London chicken shop three years ago. A stranger at the time, Police Officer Rob was called to the same job. Though arguably not the first romance to be initiated in the early hours at a fast food haven, once the emergency had been safely contained, the two recall their eyes meeting in unusual circumstances across the shop floor. Three years later and the pair will now be gifted their dream wedding in Regent’s Park, just streets away from their first eventful rendez-vous.
After meeting on the emergency call out, Paige and Rob have since balanced life alternating incredibly long and strenuous shifts on the front line. Both agreeing to commit to as much overtime as possible to save for their big day, a golden opportunity arose to share their story with London wedding venue, Regent’s Conferences & Events, who last year opened a bid to track down some of the country’s conscientious key workers that had been faced with inimitable disruption to their wedding plans in light of COVID-19. As a result of this search to recognise the UK’s incredible key workers, the venue has now gifted Paige and Rob a beautiful wedding worth £20,000.
Upon receiving the news, Paige said: “The situation is frankly incredible. We have both been blown away by the support shown by our friends, family and colleagues from both emergency services. Winning and being recognised as deserving such an incredibly special venue for the day, we can’t believe we get to marry our soulmate so close to where we met, in front of all of our colleagues and family. It truly is the wedding we have both imagined in our minds before we were even engaged. To see a team like Regent’s recognise and appreciate two emergency services and the (sometimes) thankless job we do has honestly filled our hearts with so much happiness – we’re on the verge of bursting!”
Rob said: “Working on the frontline this year has been a challenge. While it has been incredibly tough, it has also brought out the best in us and society at large in many ways, from looking after our neighbours to clapping for the NHS. We have all worked hard to support each other in ways we can. We have both worked insanely hard in order to protect and care for each other wherever we can, and we are so grateful to Regent’s for allowing us to celebrate our big day in a way we never otherwise would have been able to.”
On the decision to offer the wedding to Paige and Rob, Rafael Azzopardi, Conference and Events Manager at Regent’s said: “After hundreds of humbling accounts from couples across the country, we are absolutely delighted to be able to offer such a special gift to a truly deserving couple. It’s been fantastic to see the recognition and tributes to so many emergency workers, charities and hard working volunteers, but we wanted to find a way of giving back with a measurable thank you to a couple who particularly deserve it, and Paige and Rob are that couple. The team were very moved by all the stories that were recounted and the final decision was tougher than we’d imagined.
“The emotional and financial implications for many during COVID-19, as well as the physical ones, have been vast and we’re so excited to deliver the dream day for a lovely couple who were let down by 2020 but have remained positive, committed and an honourable representation of the emergency services. We can’t wait to welcome Paige, Rob and 100 of their closest family and friends for a day to remember once restrictions are lifted.”