Talk about a hunk of burning love.
Professional stuntman Riky Ash popped the question while aflame, during a decoy photo shoot set up to surprise his girlfriend, Katrina Dobson, a COVID-19-fighting nurse.
In a video of the fiery scene, Dobson, 48, is seen in her magenta scrubs before her now-fiancé is set ablaze and drops to his knee — on purpose. The shocked nurse, who said “yes” only after her beau was tamped out with a fire extinguisher, called the stunt, “the perfect proposal.”
“I couldn’t see anything more impressive than proposing on fire,” Ash, 52, told SWNS about the daring display of love. The UK-based stunt pro — he’s worked with everyone from Richard Burton to Johnny Depp on-screen — knew he had to put in careful planning to make the proposal safe and steamy.
First, he took notes: “I sat down with a pen and paper,” said Ash, “then I contact relevant people, and put the idea to them.” His wingmen included a cameraman, a producer and a safety crew who Ash called “my eyes and ears while I’m alight.” Before he was ignited, Ash was doused with an accelerant to cause a “big whoosh of flame.” He wore flame-protectant undergarments and a protective gel for his face, hair, hands and the back of his neck.
The crew had fire extinguishers, and in the case of a malfunction, a wet towel to douse the flames. Ash figured he had just enough time to ask, “Will you marry me Katrina Dobson” before the heat became too overwhelming so the crew would put him out.
The tall-short duo — she’s 6”3 while he’s a foot smaller — met online in March and hit it off IRL right before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“It was a whirlwind romance,” said Dobson, from Kent. “Then lockdown happened and we spoke on the phone every day for three weeks.” For the proposal, Dobson was told they were participating in a photo shoot about an NHS nurse finding love during the pandemic.“ He sold it to me as a story on something that would make people smile,” said Dobson.
Ash, who’s been stunting as a body double for 27 years, says he was able to stay relaxed while on fire thanks to his kung fu training and says the nerve-wracking part was making sure the surprise went off without a hitch. “This one, I’m more nervous about the actual proposal than being set on fire.”
“I had no idea,” said Dobson. “I love helping people — but I’ve never found that right person before. I’m pinching myself. I can’t believe it’s me.”
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