Marriage is the next great adventure for injured Bishop's Stortford soldier Sam Jack
Adventurer Sam Jack, the Bishop's Stortford soldier who suffered devastating injuries while serving in Afghanistan, will tie the knot with his fiancée in town this week.
The couple's wedding plans have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but staff and pupils at the school where Ruth O'Brien is a reception class teacher organised a surprise pre-wedding party to ensure they could celebrate the start of their new life.
Sam, now 33, told the Indie they originally hoped to host a lavish ceremony in Norfolk – halfway between his family's base in Stortford and his bride's home town in Nottingham – but a raft of restrictions limiting the number of guests forced them to abandon their plans.
They then planned a civil wedding at the register office in the Causeway for 30 friends and relations, but a further tightening of Covid-19 rules mean Saturday's (October 24) celebration is now limited to just 15. Sam and Ruth want a bumper bash next year for all those who cannot attend.
Meanwhile, pupils at St Joseph’s in the Park, the independent prep school near Hertford, dressed in style to mark the occasion. Each took a single flower to make up a bouquet for their teacher.
They enjoyed a traditional wedding breakfast, formal photos and a game of Mr & Mrs, then watched Ruth, who is the school's head of early years, and Sam cut a splendid cake and take to the floor for their first dance.
The children joined in with a disco, cucumber sandwiches for afternoon tea and balloon games before headmaster Douglas Brown presented the couple with a card and gift from the school.
Sam, a former Bishop's Stortford High School and All Saints primary pupil, is a medically retired veteran after he suffered a serious head injury and lost his right eye after taking a ricocheted bullet to the head in 2009 in Helmand Province.
His parents, Margaret and Roger, were told he had just a 20% chance of surviving, but after extensive therapy at Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre near Epsom, Surrey, he has inspired others with his courage and tenacity.
In 2018, he completed a 5,000km (3,107-mile) bike ride across North America with comrade Wes Craven to raise money for military charity Help for Heroes. The men served together in 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) based at Carver Barracks, Wimbish.
Sam met Ruth, 34, on internet dating site Match.com. He popped the question during a trip to Bude in Devon, making a clifftop proposal in the rain. They now live together in Stortford.
He hopes his next adventure will be their honeymoon. Sam said: "We wanted to go to New Zealand but it doesn't look like New Zealand will be 'open' any time soon, so we're going to look at going somewhere like Canada."