Classy prize for our bride

Driver John Stephenson, carriage groom Lesley English, and our couple Gemma Kerr and Andrew Bazeley
Driver John Stephenson, carriage groom Lesley English, and our couple Gemma Kerr and Andrew Bazeley

LOVE and marriage, they say, go together like a horse and carriage.

And for happy couple Gemma Kerr and Andrew Bazeley, their dream transport is the best anyone could imagine.

This year’s Bride of the Year got a spectacular preview of the prize which awaits on her wedding day.

Thanks to the North East Carriage Company, her September wedding will feature a truly magnificent carriage.

Gemma admitted: “It is almost too hard to believe this is part of my day.

“It is perfect. Any bride would love to have this as part of their wedding day,” added Gemma, 28, who will marry on board HMS Trincomalee after winning this year’s Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.

John Stephenson is the owner of the North East Carriage Company which has been running for about 16 years and was based at a farm in Stanley, County Durham.

It is a family run firm catering for everything from weddings and funerals to proms and promotional work.

He said the firm was famous for its involvement in the wedding of TV star Cheryl Cole and said the company had a “large selection” of both original and reproduction carriages.

It can also choose from an impressive selection of horses for any couple’s big day.

While the service mostly covers the North East, it also does work in other areas of the country.

Mr Stephenson himself was the carriage driver on the day he gave Gemma and fiance Andrew, 25, a preview of the carriage. Lesley English was the groom for the occasion.

The firm has Mr Stephenson at the helm with support from his son Lee and daughter Claire.

He said he was delighted that he could help to make Gemma and Andrew’s big day that much more memorable.

As well as weddings, his firm can cater for proms, corporate events, Santa carriage rides and more besides.

It’s the little extra touches which make the firm special, such as brides being invited to visit the farm to view the selection of horses and carriages. That way, they can choose the horse to lead their carriage on their big day.

The couple first became engaged after they attended the wedding of Gemma’s brother Graham in May last year at Lake Garda in Italy. It was the spur Andrew needed to pop the question himself.