How Downtown Radio DJ Kirstie McMurray met the love of her life at an exercise class
Downtown Radio presenter Kirstie McMurray is thrilled to be planning her June wedding. Here, Kirstie (45), from Bangor, talks to Karen Ireland about the love of her life, Michael Davies, and why she asked him out on a date
Downtown Radio and Downtown Country presenter Kirstie McMurray (45) has been walking around with a massive smile on her face for the past five months.
In fact, she admits she has been smiling a lot since January last year when she met the love of her life, Michael Davies (38), a fitness instructor who works in Ards Leisure Centre where Kirstie started 'Strike' body combat classes.
The reason for the even bigger smile is Michael's surprise proposal in December, just months after the couple had started dating.
"We were friends for a few months first and used to train together and go for walks with his dog," Kirstie recalls.
However, after a while it became apparent that the couple had fallen for each other, and Kirstie confessed her feelings for Michael and asked him out on an official date.
"We used to just talk for hours and we really got to know each other before we became a couple," she explains.
"He wasn't like anyone I had ever met before and it was his personality which really attracted me at the beginning. I just loved talking to him and spending time with him."
Kirstie reveals that the couple talked about a future together and even looked at rings early on, but she thought any proposal would be way down the line.
However, Michael had other ideas and on December 22 last year he asked her to meet him for a walk after work. "We met at Helen's Tower which is the place where Michael first told me he loved me. The first thing I asked him when he arrived was where was the dog. He said he thought it would be nice just the two of us.
"We walked past the spot that was special to us and then after a while we turned and made our way back again. I noticed Michael had fallen behind and when I turned around he had stopped and was on one knee with a ring in his hand. I couldn't believe it. I was delighted and said yes immediately through the tears.
"I knew it was quick but we'd both talked about what we wanted, and we knew we wanted a future together.
"Our friends and family were all very supportive of us. In fact, it was they who suggested we get married this year as initially we were going to wait until next year.
"His family has experienced tragedy and lost loved ones at an early age, and they would be of the opinion don't put things off, enjoy life now."
So, with everyone's blessing, the couple began planning their June wedding in January.
"It sounds ridiculous, but I had most of the important things done in the first couple of weeks. I went with Michael's sister to a dress shop in Newtownards called The Wedding Box and I saw a dress I loved but I wanted to look around, so Mum and I went to a couple of appointments. In the end I took her back to The Wedding Box to see the first dress I liked. When I tried it on she cried and I cried, so I knew it was the one. Now I just can't wait to wear it."
In fact, Kirstie admits she can't wait for the entire day. "I was married before, but it was a very small wedding and I never had the excitement I feel now.
"Looking back, I think I was too young and was just ticking a box to get married and start a family," admits the mum-of-two, Connor (19) and Katie (17). "I don't want to say anything negative about my children's father but the day after the wedding I felt like I had made a huge mistake.
"I stayed married for eight years as I was brought up to stick at things and make them work, but after that amount of time I just thought I am too young to be this unhappy, so I left the marriage.
"At the time we were travelling a lot and I lived away from Northern Ireland.
"I missed my family and friends and was glad to get back home after the marriage ended.
"Michael has never been married before - he says he's always been waiting for me to come along - so he is equally excited about the wedding.
"We can't wait. All we want to do is celebrate with those closest to us and who mean the most to us."
The couple will marry on June 16 in Second Presbyterian Church in Comber, and will have a reception in Carnalea Golf Club in Bangor.
Kirstie jokes that she had to plan her date around the football season as Michael is a football coach for a team in Bangor where the couple live.
"The kids are very happy for us and have given us their blessing," says Kirstie.
Michael gets on great with them and even goes to the pub on nights out with Connor when he is home from university in Aberdeen where he is in his first year.
"Katie is studying for her AS exams, so she didn't want to be a bridesmaid as she will be up to her eyes with exams at the time of the wedding, but she will do a reading in the church and Connor will give me away and walk me down the aisle.
"I've asked Michael if he will turn to watch me come up the aisle and he said no, but I want him to see Connor and I walk up to him. We are both blubbers so we will probably both cry.
"Michael has a real tough exterior and comes across as very laddish but inside he has a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone.
"He is extremely sensitive. He is like a counsellor to people who take his classes and I hear him on the phone talking to them about their journeys such as weight loss and lack of confidence. He is brilliant with them."
Kirstie reveals that one of her main worries when she got together with Michael was about him wanting a family of his own.
"We talked about it from very early on and he assured me that he was happy with the way things were and that he didn't mind not having children as long as he had me.
"He has a lot of nieces and nephews who keep him on his toes and, who knows, one day we could be blessed with grandchildren and he would be an amazing step-granddad."
The couple will be joined by 85 close friends and family on the day of the wedding, with more coming along to join in the evening celebrations. "That was the most stressful bit, deciding who we could invite and trying to squeeze everyone in who we wanted," reveals Kirstie.
Such was her excitement and enthusiasm that she even took on the challenge of making her own individual wedding invitations.
"I got busy with a glue gun and some lace and daises," she adds. "It was all under the supervision of my friend Daphne McCormick who is a wedding planner.
"The invitations are all ready to go out, and there are a few last minute things to be done, but we really can't wait, and we have truly never been happier."
Michael says that he never expected Kirstie to be romantically interested in him, but that everything felt just right as their closeness grew.
"When I met Kirstie there was a great friendship bond between us which developed, and more and more time was spent with walking Mack the dog - I never suspected she would have been interested in me until she suggested a date," he says modestly.
"I was thinking I had to impress but it was very easy and felt instantly natural.
"Very quickly on our walks we joked about a future together and it just felt right ... so I decided I'm going to marry this girl."
Michael says he appreciates the influence Kirstie has had on him and the great support she has been.
"Not only has she become my best friend and my confidant, but she was the one who encouraged me to get back into coaching," he says.
"She's been so supportive, which means a lot. It's in her nature to put others first which is one of her most beautiful characteristics.
"Roll on June 16 - I can't wait to see what our future together has in store."