WATCH: Lifeboatman pops the big question at Ballygally beach

Larne RNLI crewman Gary Hanna planned a surprise proposal on Ballygally beach with the help of crew members on Sunday.

Colleagues out at sea sailed into view onboard a lifeboat bearing a banner asking girlfriend Nichola Fleet to marry him, adding the words “Say Yes from Larne Station”.

Down one knee: Gary Hanna pops the question to Michelle Fleet

Down one knee: Gary Hanna pops the question to Michelle Fleet

Gary, who has been a volunteer at the lifeboat station for nearly two years, explained: “I had asked the coxswain and the station mechanic if it would be possible to use the boat and then they worked their magic.

“I told Nichola the boat was out that day but I was not going as I had invited her mum and dad down for Sunday dinner.

“I told them to ask to go to Ballygally for an ice cream for dessert.

“The the boat came up and turned around and when she saw it, she was shocked.”

Crew members on board the Larne Lifeboat

Crew members on board the Larne Lifeboat

Nichola accepted his proposal to a relieved Gary and cheers from the lifeboat crew, parents and bystanders and flares lit up onboard the boat.

“Everyone at the RNLI was so supportive. We are like a family at the station.

A spokesperson for Larne Lifeboat said: “From all at Larne RNLI, we would like to congratulate crew member Gary Hanna and his fiancée Nichola Fleet on their engagement. What a wonderful RNLI proposal.”

The couple has been congratulated by well-wishers from as far afield as Australia.

Gary’s brave proposal on bended knee has been described as “brilliant” on social media.