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Key worker couple who fought coronavirus given free wedding in ‘emotional’ surprise

PUBLISHED: 19:00 27 July 2020

An emotional NHS worker Elysa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

An emotional NHS worker Elysa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Wedding bells will ring sooner than expected for two key workers after they won a competition thanking those on the frontline for their efforts during the pandemic.

An emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Elysa Varvel and Richard Lovett, from Costessey, thought they were arriving at Carrow Fire Station to be interviewed as one of 10 finalists for the Norfolk Key Worker Wedding Giveaway Competition - only to be given the news that they had actually won.

The couple were one of 600 applicants entered in the contest, which has seen 35 suppliers from across the region come together to provide one key worker couple with their dream big day.

An emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, with their son, 19-month-old Cason, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Miss Varvel, who is expecting the couple’s second child in September, works in the acute medial unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and in April was sent home after experiencing a high temperature.

The couple, who are parents to 19-month-old Cason, both developed the virus and continued to look after their son before returning to work.

Family and friends celebrate as the surprise is revealed that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for keyworkers Elysa Varvel and Richard Lovett's wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFamily and friends celebrate as the surprise is revealed that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for keyworkers Elysa Varvel and Richard Lovett's wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Miss Varvel, 25, said: “It was really tough. Cason was about 16 months at the time and we weren’t able to receive that support from our family, we were not able to get the rest.

“I felt guilty, my baby’s health is important but we couldn’t help but think about how colleagues were working really tirelessly both in the NHS and the fire service.

An emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I’ve always said what is important is being married to Richard and the fact that we can be husband and wife from 2021 instead of 2022 is just amazing. I think it is just the cherry on the cake because I have my baby that is due in September and I think it will be our complete little family. I just can’t believe that we will be married next year. I don’t think I have ever seen Richard this emotional.

“With everything that has gone on recently with coronavirus, I have a baby due, it’s just trying to catch up with everything and now to have this, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of emotions recently and this will be just such a lovely reward.”

An emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The couple met three years ago, with Mr Lovett proposing near the Seven Sisters cliff near Dover last year.

Mr Lovell, 35, and a firefighter for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It’s going to take me a few days to take all of this in.

Family and friends celebrate as the surprise is revealed that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for keyworkers Elyssa Varvel and Richard Lovett's wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFamily and friends celebrate as the surprise is revealed that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for keyworkers Elyssa Varvel and Richard Lovett's wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We wanted to get back to work, we knew we were needed. We just wanted to do the right thing through this. To have been nominated was something, we did not expect anything from it.”

The couple were nominated by Mr Lovett’s sister Amber and mum Su, who attended the event with Mr Lovett’s dad Mo, sisters Abbie Lovett-Potter, Zoe Lovett-Weston, nieces and nephews Bili, Eda, Everson, Beau and Belle as well as Miss Varvel’s mum Louise Watts and friend Julia Reeve.

An emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn emotional NHS worker Elyssa Varvel, and her fiancé, fire fighter Richard Lovett, after being surprised that Norfolk wedding businesses will be paying for their wedding. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Miss Lovett said: “I felt they went through such a hard time. With her being pregnant and catching coronavirus, working full time job through a whole pandemic they really deserve it.”

Amelia Hacking, co-ordinator for the competition, said: “We had 600 applications to go through. We all cried [when we heard their story], we couldn’t imagine what a stressful situation they must have been in.”


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