Flash proposal gets Craig a 'yes'

ON BENDED KNEE:  Craig Kempton proposing to Kathy Barton during a flash mob at the Richmond Mall on Saturday.
ON BENDED KNEE: Craig Kempton proposing to Kathy Barton during a flash mob at the Richmond Mall on Saturday.

Kathy Barton went to lunch with a friend in Richmond Mall on Saturday without an inkling she would soon be the star of a very public marriage proposal.

One singer, then two, then suddenly a whole mob of dancers were on their feet and singing Bruno Mars' song Marry Menat the top of their voices.

The crowd grew larger, the noise got louder, and Craig Kempton started sweating just a little bit more.

As the song came to an end the flash mob then formed a lively guard of honour, and Kempton strolled beneath it towards an increasingly gobsmacked Barton.

The cheering and applause was deafening as the crowd which by then had swelled into the hundreds anticipated the question, and Kempton dipped down on one knee.

It was like the All Blacks had won the Rugby World Cup again when Barton quietly uttered, ''yes'', and collapsed into her fiance's protective hug.

When the dust had settled and the crowd had melted away, the ifNelson Mailnf asked when they planned to marry: ''After I've killed him,'' she said, still clearly overwhelmed.

Barton, who works in a store at the mall, said afterwards while gripping a bunch of deep red roses she was aware something was going on, but never could have imagined what happened.

Kempton said his idea was inspired by similar proposals he had seen online, so called in his friend, Shawn Stormann, to help, who in turn contacted Soundstage music and performing arts teaching school in Nelson.

Teacher Sophie Ricketts, a flash mob ring leader, said the whole thing was great.

''It was the best we could have hoped for. There were smiles, gasps and screams, and tears of joy,'' she said.

Kempton and Barton have three children each, and two from each family were among the crowd on Saturday.

Kempton said afterwards when his nerves had settled, that he had taken a gamble with the idea, which had paid off. The local advertising company representative said he had not been entirely sure of the outcome, and that he had not had a Plan B ready in case the answer was ''no''.

He had managed to entice his bride-to-be to the mall at the right time with a ''bit of skulduggery'' and help from a friend who agreed to take her to lunch when Kempton said he was unable to make their Saturday lunch date.

The couple met via a dating site in 2012 and hit it off immediately. ''Our first date was just a great day, and it's gone from there,'' he said.