Firms give Devon marine 'dream' wedding

A Devon-based Royal Marine injured in Afghanistan has had a £25,000 wedding thanks to local firms.

Businesses gave L/Cpl Andy Thomas and his bride Karly Goodman everything from flowers to a stately home venue for Friday's wedding.

The donations started rolling in after firms heard about Marine Thomas's injuries on duty in Afghanistan.

The couple, who had been planning a register office wedding, thanked firms for "making our dream come true".

L/Cpl Thomas, 23, who is based at RMB Chivenor in Devon, suffered serious injuries when he was dragged under the tracks of a Viking vehicle in Helmand Province, during his second tour in Afghanistan.

He took six months to recover and had planned to marry Ms Goodman, who is also 23, in a register office before returning to Afghanistan in March 2011.

The Countess of Arran heard about the marine's story in a local newspaper and offered them her home, Castle Hill in Filleigh, as a venue for the wedding.

Lady Arran said: "We are tremendous military supporters in our family.

"There has been so much sadness so we wanted to do something uplifting."

After that the offers snowballed in, including rings, flowers, a photographer, cake, champagne and canapes.

L/Cpl Thomas said: "We did not have the money to have any sort of wedding.

"If we were going to get married, it was going to be a small wedding in a registry office."

Ms Goodman said: "It's like a dream come true with everything that's been contributed. It's amazing.

"We are so grateful to the north Devon community for giving us the opportunity to experience the wedding of a lifetime."

Kieron Freeburn, of Holsworthy-based Classic Carriages, said he offered their Rolls-Royce cars as a "small token gesture of appreciation for the work of local servicemen and women".

The couple's three-night honeymoon stay at Bovey Castle in Devon has been cut to two days after the groom got a last-minute call-up for training.

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