- Couple were caught up in the horrific ISIS attack on the holiday resort
- Cardiff man had planned to propose to girlfriend on day of the attack
- After thoughts of delaying, he decided to go through with the proposal
- The couple hope their engagement will send out a message of defiance
Richard Spillett for MailOnline
05:18 EST, 29 June 2015
05:34 EST, 29 June 2015
A British couple who survived the Tunisian beach horror got engaged just six hours later in an act of defiance against terrorism.
Ben Wilton, 24, proposed to girlfriend Shelley Hey after they survived the attack by an ISIS gunman in the resort of Sousse, in which an estimated 38 people died, 30 of whom are believed to be British.
The couple said they hoped their engagement would send out the message that ‘our love is stronger than their hate.’
Survivor Ben Wilton proposed to Shelley Hey on the day of the Tunisian beach massacre in an act of defience
The couple, pictured on the day of the shooting, had been sitting on beach loungers near where British tourists were shot dead shortly before the attack took place
The pair, from Cardiff, were relaxing on sunbeds when they saw sand flying up and a noise ‘like fireworks’ as bullets were sprayed at tourists relaxing on the beach.
They grabbed their things and fled to safety and managed to get to their hotel room to lock themselves in.
Before the attack, Mr Wilton had been planning to propose because it was Shelley’s 25th birthday and he wanted to surprise her.
He said: ‘First of all I thought “I’m going to have to leave it and wait until we get home”.
‘But as the day went on I thought: “No, actually, they’re not going to stop this”, so I just did it anyway.’
The couple have sent their condolences to families of those killed and told The Sun: ‘Our marriage proposal is just one little bit of good that has come out of such a tragic day.’
Civil servant Mr Wilton and his now wife-to-be Miss Hey, who manages a children’s nursery, flew home on an emergency flight from Tunisia to Manchester Airport and were safely back in Cardiff last night.
The couple are among a large number of British tourists staying at the hotels attacked who witnessed the horrific shooting.
Miss Hay shows off her ring. She hopes their engagement shows that ‘our love is stronger than their hate’
The couple, from Cardiff, have sent their condolences to the families of those killed in the terrorist atrocity
Many have since told of their ordeal. Cheryl Mellor, 54, of Bodmin, Cornwall, ‘played dead’ for 20 minutes to survive after her husband Stephen – who was killed in the attack – was shot as he tried to shield her from the hail of bullets.
She and Mr Mellor, 59, hid behind their sun loungers, saying ‘I love you, I love you’ to each other as gunman opened fire Seifeddine Rezgui 20ft away.
Speaking from her intensive care bed, mother-of-two Mrs Mellor has said: ‘He pointed the gun at me and he shot me twice, once in the leg, once in the hand. I thought ‘This is it, I’m going to die.’
‘Then Steve said: ‘We’ve got to go, we’ve got to run.’ That’s when he was shot. I just lay there pretending to be dead.’
Fellow survivor Matthew James, who was shot three times when he used himself as a human shield to save his fiancée, has been flown back home to Britain.
Gas engineer Mr James, 30, urged Saera Wilson to flee the beach after he was shot, saying: ‘Tell our children that their daddy loves them’.
Pictures from the day of the attack show gunman Seifeddine Rezgui running up the beach
He is thought to have killed 37 people, 30 of whom are believed to be British holidaymakers
The identities of 17 people from the UK and Ireland who died have been confirmed, but sources have indicated the British death toll could rise as high as 30.
It was announced today that Home Secretary Theresa May is to travel to Tunisia in the wake of the beach massacre.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Mrs May and Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood would be visiting the resort.
Mr Cameron, who is chairing another meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee later,
‘This is an absolutely horrific attack and I know it has shocked the whole of the country, it has shocked the whole of the world,’ he said.
Flowers have been laid at the scene. Home Secretary Theresa May is to visit the resort later today