Couple set to climb Everest are on top of the world after surprise leap year proposal
A couple due to take on Mount Everest together in less than a month have another reason to celebrate after she popped the question on February 29.
Mea, 48, had planned to propose to his girlfriend of 14 months when they reached Mount Kalapatthar - but Rachael beat him to it.
The 38-year-old got down on one knee in South Shields in the early hours of Saturday, February 29 - the leap day when traditions say a woman can propose to a man.
It came hours after their fundraising night at Hedworth Hall on Friday, February 28, which raised an incredible £1,980 for Cancer Connections.
The couple were still on a high when Rachael took Mea by surprise as they headed out to celebrate its success.
Mea, who claims he didn’t know about the leap year tradition, said: “I didn’t know anything about it, I was blown away. I said yes of course, but at first I didn’t know what she was doing.
“I’m still in shock, I normally see things coming, but I had no idea.
“She said she had wanted to do it on stage but got scared in case I said no.”
The couple who are both singers and entertainers in the North East, hit it off immediately when Rachael heard about the Everest trip Mea was planning.
Before long she was packing a bag herself.
“She got in touch and we started talking and bonded over a shared passion for adventure,” said Mea.
“Since I met Rachael I knew I wanted to marry her, she's the one for me.”
The couple have already set a date for the wedding – August 21, 2021 – which Mea says won’t be a “normal wedding” but rather a “massive party”.
For now though they are focusing their attention on the looming flight to Kathmandu on April 4 and the gruelling 18-day-trek through the Himalayas.
“I’ve wanted to do this all my life, I can’t believe it’s happening in 30 days,” added Mea.