Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

First of the Leap Year proposals... by woman on a zip wire

Jenny takes plunge with proposal at top of 100ft zip wire

By Angela Rainey

Published 29/02/2016

Jenny Holland zips in to propose to boyfriend Brian Donnelly
Jenny Holland zips in to propose to boyfriend Brian Donnelly
The couple share a kiss
Benny O’Hanlon, proprietor of Todds Leap, was on hand with Champagne to help the happy couple celebrate their engagement
Jenny Holland

When Jenny Holland said she had decided take the plunge at the top of a 100ft high zip wire, few were expecting it to be in the romantic sense.

Instead of a leap into the abyss, the 40-year-old Belfast woman 'rose' to the occasion and made a leap year proposal - getting down on bended knee to pop the question.

Jenny had managed to persuade partner Brian Donnelly (41) into a daredevil tandem jump, and went through a rollercoaster of emotions as his nervousness was replaced by surprise.

The idea of a leap year proposal, where once every four years women propose to their men, was sparked after the couple had been at a wedding.

"We were at a wedding when some people told me about the tradition of leap year proposals at Todds Leap," said Ms Holland, a reporter and English teacher who lived in New York for more than 15 years.

"We had been talking about getting married but not really done anything about it, so I spoke to Brian's uncle Benny and a few weeks later he got back to me and we put together the plan of me proposing before doing the zip wire."

Mr Donnelly, a chef who has worked with Michele Roux, Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes, was duped into thinking he was going to help his uncle Benny O'Hanlon, who owns Todds Leap in Ballygawley, do some cooking before testing the zip wire.

And the plan went like clockwork as an unsuspecting Brian was led up to the jump platform, 100ft of the ground.

But even more nervous was Jenny, as she seized the moment and presented a shocked Brian with a rose, before asking him: "Will you marry me?"

Brian said: "When we got to the top just about to jump off, Jenny gave me the rose and she bent down on one knee.

"I was thinking: 'Oh my goodness!' And, of course, I said yes.

"Then I saw my uncle smiling at the bottom with a bottle of Champagne and I knew he was in on it."

"He was really surprised," said Ms Donnelly, who is mother to seven-year-old Daniel. "He didn't suspect a thing."

The pair became a couple just over two years ago when their eyes met in The Crown bar in Belfast when Jenny took some Spanish students for a drink.

The pair, who run online magazine, say they hope to tie the knot later in the year.

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