A SURPRISE proposal had a happy ending when a couple returned to the scene of their first date at Thirsk Racecourse after more than 20 years.

Middlesbrough couple Paul Emerson and Sheila Collins went their separate ways after meeting 20 years ago but reignited their romance in 2010.

Mr Emerson decided the ideal place to pop the question would be where they spent their first date.

The proposal over lunch at the new Thomas Lord Dine and View Restaurant was met with tears, followed by a resounding 'yes' and rapturous applause from the surrounding tables.

The couple were then invited to the parade ring to judge the Best Turned Out horse for the next race, and then on to the winner’s enclosure to make the post-race presentation to the winning owner.

Sophia Monkman from Thirsk Racecourse said: “It was lovely to have such a romantic proposal made at Thirsk Races – it’s obviously a very special place for Sheila and Paul.

“We all wish them the very best for the future.”

For full details of Thirsk’s 2014 fixtures, special offers, and to book tickets visit www.thirskracecourse.net or call 01845-522276.