Salute to a winning couple

Stuart Burke, a cultural assistant at the Maritime Experience, will start Andrew and Deborah's marriage off with a bang with a gun salute
Stuart Burke, a cultural assistant at the Maritime Experience, will start Andrew and Deborah's marriage off with a bang with a gun salute

WITH muskets aloft, a team of people dressed in Napoleonic costume will pay tribute to a winning couple.

Just minutes after Andrew Mullen, 39, and Deborah Langley, 44, tie the knot, they will enjoy a gun salute to mark their big day.

It comes courtesy of the team at Hartlepool Borough Council and Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.

Thanks to their generosity, our couple will be receiving both the salute and the room hire for their wedding breakfast free of charge.

It’s a tremendous offer for the couple who won the Hartlepool Mail Bride of the Year competition, run in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.

Emma Dowson is the council’s operations manager in audience development and said: “We are thrilled to be included in this special occasion and cannot wait for the big day.

“We hope to set the marriage off with a bang with our musket salute.

“The quayside also offers a fantastic backdrop for wedding photos and guests can take the opportunity to look around the quayside, as part of their day, for free.”

Emma added: “We pride ourselves as being a unique wedding venue for weddings of all sizes, with great views of the HMS Trincomalee and Marina from the Sir William Gray Suite and Baltic Suite, with the added bonus of having such experienced caterers on site, in Cleveland Caterers.”

Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, part of Hartlepool Borough Council, is providing a free musket salute worth £75 and free room hire for the wedding breakfast in the Sir William Gray Suite, worth £120+VAT.

Groom-to-be Andrew said: “To have something like this on our big day will make it amazing. It will certainly make us feel like Royalty.

“And after all, how many people get to have something like a gun salute at their wedding.”

Cultural assistant Stuart Burke is one of the staff who will be dressed in period costume and firing the salute on our couple’s big day.

Before his current job, he was a guide on HMS Trincomalee and said: “I love it because every day is different, especially as different people ask different questions.

“Most people seem to want to know whether the monkey hanging legend is true.”

Couples can choose the types of guns they want for their salute. It can be any mix of the flintlock pistols and brown bess muskets and Stuart said: “They are reproductions but they are made to the same specifications as the originals.”

He explained how the salute worked.

“The bride and groom will come on to the upper deck.

“We will be dressed in Napoleonic costume. We talk about the guns and how they work.

“And we fire the salute to wish a happy marriage to the couple.”

Bride-to-be Deborah said: “I think the guns are beautiful. I love anything to do with history.”

Deborah and her fiance Andrew Mullen, 39, will marry in a £12,000 wedding in September on board HMS Trincomalee.

Deborah won the Bride of the Year competition after she was entered for it by Andrew. A devastating health condition has left Andrew mostly confined to a wheelchair but he wanted to say thank you for his fiancee’s support by entering her for the contest.

Deborah has been there for him ever since he first developed the string of related conditions – degenerative spinal disease, facet joint arthritis, and nerve damage.