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Hatch-and-match stuns congregation

03 October 2014


Surprise, surprise: Yvonne Dennis and Andrew Thornton, with Harry, at St Nicholas's, Husthwaite

Surprise, surprise: Yvonne Dennis and Andrew Thornton, with Harry, at St Nicholas's, Husthwaite

THE congregation had just settled down in St Nicholas's, in the north Yorkshire village of Husthwaite, for the baptism of four-month-old Harry Thornton, when the priest announced that Harry's parents' marriage was the first item on the day's order of service.

The stunned silence lasted only briefly before the guests broke into spontaneous cheers.

Apart from the baby's mother, Yvonne Dennis, and father, Andrew Thornton, the only people who knew the secret were the Vicar, the Revd Liz Hassall; the best man, Jimmy Derham; and the photographer, Robert Smith. Even the couple's parents had not been told.

Mr Thornton, a National Hunt jockey, and Ms Dennis, a wedding florist, had known each other since they were seven, but had been in a relationship for only three years.

The new Mrs Thornton said that the idea came from a comment by her future mother-in-law, about five weeks before the baptism on 13 September. "She asked jokingly: 'Have you thought any more about getting married, or are you going to do it all together?'

"Nothing more was said, but later we thought: 'What a brilliant idea.'

"I see weddings every week, and people get completely wrapped up with the thrills and spills, and forget why they are getting married. By keeping it low-key, with the people who are important to Harry, we avoided all the fuss.

"We kept it a secret so people wouldn't rush off to buy special outfits - that gets in the way of what's important. We thought that, as long as everybody is there who means a lot to us, it doesn't matter what they are wearing.

"When Liz made the announcement, people's faces just dropped. Some cried, some laughed, and then there was a huge cheer."

Mrs Hassall said: "I was really delighted when they asked me, because baptism is a big commitment, and marriage is another big commitment that you make before God.

"I asked the congregation to stand up, and told them: 'We've got a secret to tell you. I know you are all here for Harry's christening, but I have got a marriage licence in my hands.' There was a spontaneous roar."

Mrs Thornton said that their honeymoon was equally straightforward. "Andrew had a ride at Sedgefield a few days later; so Harry and I went along. It was a great day out - even if Andrew did come only third."

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