What's it like to have a big life event on an unusual day like Leap Year Day?

Leap Year Day only happens every four years. So February 29 is four times as special for those celebrating birthdays, weddings and other anniversaries.

Saturday, 29th February 2020, 11:45 am
Alison Brown and Craig Bradford are tying the knot today.

We sought out some of Lancashire's "Leaplings" to ask them what's so special about today.

WEDDINGS

Leap year couple Alison Brown and Craig Bradford are tying the knot today - on the first anniversary of their first date.

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Mark Edmondson and Hazel Baddeley are having a leap year wedding.

The pair, who met exactly four years ago, are marrying at Bartle Hall near Preston because February 29 is such a special day for them.

“We hit it off straight away, but we’ve waited four years for the wedding,” said chef Alison.

“We had our first date on February 29. So it seemed only right to plan our marriage on February 29 too.

“But if Craig thinks he only needs to get me an anniversary present every four years, he can think again. We’ll be celebrating it every year on February 28 - with a double celebration when the 29th comes round again.”

Annie Bamber when she celebrated her 4th (16th) birthday in 2016.

Alison, 52, and 49-year-old mechanic Craig met online through dating website Match.com.

“I only joined on February 28 and paid six months upfront,” laughed Alison, who cooks for the residents of a care home in Lytham St Annes.

“Straight away I got an email from Craig and immediately there was a spark. He says he knew that day that we were meant for each other. With me it took about a week.

“But I still had to pay for six months - even though I found Mr Right on the first day. Still, I suppose I got my money’s worth.

Lindsay and Philip Thornton are celebrating their second wedding anniversary - eight years on from their secret wedding in 2012.

“We arranged to meet up the following day, which was the 29th. And that was it. We saw each other every day that following week.

“He bought me a teddy bear on the second day and flowers on day three. He’s so romantic.

“Match kept sending us details of prospective partners and neither of us was interested. We’d found who we set out to find.”

Alison recalls Craig admitting on their first date that he wasn’t looking for marriage. But it wasn’t long before she “wore him down.”

“One night he was laid on the settee next to me and said: ‘If I was to propose, how would you imagine it would be?’ Then, 20 minutes later, he put a big bag of Haribo sweets on the coffee table and said: ‘Will you marry me?’

“He is a cracker. He’s everything I was looking for.

“I put on the website that I wanted someone who was loyal, honest and had family values. Straight away I had a few men contact me, but Craig was the one that I replied to and we’ve been together ever since.”

Hypnotherapist Mark Edmondson insists he hasn’t put a spell on fiancee Hazel Baddeley to walk down the aisle with him today.

And he is adamant he isn’t marrying the part-time model on Leap Year Day just to save money on anniversary presents.

“It’s because I’m useless at remembering dates and February 29 is not one you can forget,” he laughed.

“I don’t think I’d get away with only buying an anniversary card and flowers once every four years. In fact I know I wouldn’t.”

Former photographer Mark, 48, met his 26-year-old bride-to-be on a photo-shoot. He wasn’t the man behind the camera, his friend was. But, having tagged along for the ride, he hit it off with Hazel and the two became friends.

“I never thought, with an age difference of 22 years, that anything was going to happen between us,” he explained. “I didn’t think a young woman like Hazel would be interested in an old fella like me.

“But then, after about a year in which we had become really close friends through working together, she asked me out. I was staggered. And now, four years later, we’re getting married. Wow.

“It helped, I think, that I am a similar age to her parents and I get on really well with them.

“That first time I met Hazel, she was the model and a photographer friend of mine had a shoot booked with her in Blackpool. He was from Liverpool and, because he didn’t know the area very well, he asked me to tag along to show him a few locations.

“We were up at Fleetwood and I decided to jump a gully and fell head first into the mud. I came out looking like the creature from the black lagoon. The photographer and his wife fell about laughing, but Hazel came over and asked if I was ok. Then she started laughing and almost fell in herself.

“I knew from that moment that we were going to be good friends. But I never expected anything else.”

Mark gave up his job in photography and now works as a hypnotherapist. Hazel is still doing “a little bit” of modelling, but has a full-time job in graphic design.

They are marrying at St Joseph’s Church in Wesham near Kirkham, followed by a reception at AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm stadium.

BIRTHDAYS

Little Arthur Swarbrick’s mum says she can’t want to celebrate her son’s “unique” day.

Arthur Swarbrick, from Preston, will be celebrating his ‘official’ first birthday today and mum Louise says it is important to “make a fuss” of her “little leapling”.

“I feel like I missed the chance to celebrate his last one, so it’s a very special birthday,” she said. “I call him my little leapling. He keeps saying ‘I’m one and four’, but he has no idea what a leap birthday actually is.

“It’s a unique thing, I don’t know many people with birthdays that fall on the 29th - so it’s important for me that I make a fuss of him.”

Arthur was due to be born on March 11, but arrived unexpectedly at approximately 3am on February 29. Louise added: “I was having a joke that he was going to be born on the 29th and there he was. He wasn’t due for another weeks but he came early, it was a massive surprise.

“We will be hosting a party on the Sunday, but on the proper day we will be having a family day an enjoying the quality time together.”

Amelia-Rose Warren-Atkinson also celebrates her first ‘proper’ birthday today, aged four.

She lives in Fishwick in Preston with her mum Lisa and big brother. She featured in the Post leap year babies page after she was born on February 29, 2016.

Annie Bamber turned 20 today - even though pals sometimes tease he that she’s only five!

She describes the experience of being a Leap Day baby as “surreal” but says it does have some perks, including getting interviewed on television.

“It feels bizarre having my birthday on a leap day this year because obviously it happens once every four years, but I’m looking forward to celebrating it and enjoying the day,” said Annie, of Buckshaw Village.

“My boyfriend is constantly joking about it – he keeps saying I’m 5 years old and not 20, which always gets on my nerves.

“On my 16th birthday I had a full TV interview, they came into school and asked me how it felt to have my birthday on a leap day, so that was surreal from a personal point of view.”

Former teacher Alex Proffitt usually celebrates her birthday on March 1. But she’ll be "partying" on her actual birthday for the first time in four years today by lacing up her running shoes.

The Preston Harriers runner will take on the Preston Parkrun today - then head out for her evening do.

The former Cardinal Newman College student, who previously served in the Navy, said: “My mum just said to me that I was born awkwardly.

“My cousin was born on the 28th a year later, so I always celebrate on the 1st just so I don’t have to share the day with him.

“I’ll be celebrating my birthday by starting with the Preston Park run with a few friends I have met through joining. I then have an evening do that runs from 2-10pm, so I’m excited to be celebrating my 10th or 40th birthday!”

ANNIVERSARIES

A couple who have been married eight years will be celebrating their second wedding anniversary today - and it’s not just because of the leap year anomaly.

Lindsay and Philip Thornton only really ever tied the knot because they wanted everyone in their family, including their son Noah, to have the same last name.

The duo, who live in Whalley, had a secret wedding on February 29 in 2012, only telling friends and family afterwards.

Lindsay, 44, a computer aided design officer, said: “We decided to get married on the leap year in secret. It was me, my husband and our son, our two friends Karen and Ian and their two children Lucy and Ewan. We didn’t let anyone else know.

“We got married in the week and sent everyone a text saying come to the pub on Friday, we’ve got exciting news.

“A lot of people expected us to be announcing that we were having another child or to announce our engagement.

“But we were never engaged before we got married, that’s why our friends and family were so shocked when we announced it. Nobody was cross we’d done it in secret.

“Philip and I just didn’t want the expense and fuss of a wedding. He says getting married is more or an administrative exercise. We are not the lovey dovey kind of people.

“I wanted us all to have the same name. Going through passport control one time at the airport the guy asked me what relation I was to my son and I just thought, this has got to change.”

And because they’re not overly romantic Lindsay and Philip, 40, who met through mutual friends, don’t celebrate their anniversary every year either so a leap year anniversary suits them on another level.

“We only celebrate it every leap year,” said Lindsay. “This year we’re going to Barcelona for a long weekend. I’m looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere. We went to the Lake District for our first anniversary.”

Noah, who is now 11, is spending the weekend with the same couple who Linsday and Philip had as their witnesses for their wedding.