Corrie McKeague’s brother is set to marry a woman he met while searching for his missing sibling nearly two years after his disappearance.
Darroach McKeague’s life was turned upside down when his older brother disappeared after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in September 2016. The RAF gunner has never been found.
But on this journey of turmoil and devastation, came an unlikely ray of hope for Darroch after he met and fell in love with a kind-hearted volunteer who was desperate to help in the search.
Darroch, 22, revealed he first met fiance Leah McElrea, 20, in Bury St Edmunds after they struck up a conversation about horses while handing out leaflets to find his brother.
Speaking on the Lorraine programme this morning, he revealed how Leah and her mother invited Darroch out for a horse ride.
Darroch said: ‘Corrie and I used to ride when we were younger. Leah and her mum have three horses so they said we will take you out.It was so good because I couldn’t concentrate on anything then you’re just on the back of a horse. It took our mind off of things, it’s a different kind of therapy.’
Leah told the Scottish television presenter there was a spark ‘instantly’.
She said she felt compelled to help in the search as her older brother was in the army: ‘
Darroch, from Dunfermline, Fife, popped the question on December 1 at a charity ball held in aid of SULSAR – a search team that helped to look for Corrie.
They will be getting married later this month with two bridesmaids close friends who the couple met during the search for Corrie.
Leah said: ‘I thank Corrie every single day for bringing us together but if I could give Darroch his brother back and I would not have my happiness, I would give that to him.’
Darroch added: ‘I lost my best friend but I found my new best friend and I couldn’t be any happier with her.’
His mother, Nicola Urquhart, 48, wrote on Facebook: ‘Darroch met this amazing, beautiful, kindhearted lady because of Corrie.
‘Tonight, in front of the people that are important to him, he asked Leah to marry him. I’m delighted beyond words that she said yes.’
Miss McElrea, of Needham Market, Suffolk, said she was ‘shocked’ at the proposal and that if she met the missing serviceman, she would tell him she was ‘looking after his brother the best I can’.
She wrote on Facebook: ‘Myself and Darroch would like to say a big thank you to everyone, I am totally shocked Darroch asked me to marry him last night and I can’t quite take this big smile of my face!
‘I met Darroch just over a year ago while me and my mum were handing out missing flyers in Bury St Edmunds for Corrie, I never in a million years thought I would ever meet the love of my life this way.
‘We are going to sit down and have a look at dates in 2018 to get married YIKES!’
Corrie, 23, disappeared on a boozy night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on September 24, 2017 after possibly climbing into a wheelie bin to sleep.
Police believed the RAF Regiment gunner based at nearby RAF Honington was scooped up by a bin lorry from a horseshoe-shaped storage area.
Officers last year sifted through more than 9,000 tonnes of rubbish at a landfill site at Milton, Cambridgeshire, but found no sign of his body.
But detectives said in March that the two separate searches carried out over 27 weeks may have been in the area of the 120-acre site.
The force ruled out carrying out further searches at the Milton site, saying: ‘The areas where Corrie could be now, are vast; many times bigger than the area of landfill already searched.
‘It would take years to complete. The environmental and legal impact of digging up such deep and wide areas of landfill is significant and prohibitive.’
The statement said that police had been through all ‘realistic possibilities in detail’ and there was ‘nothing to suggest any foul play or third party involvement.’
But officers insisted the inquiry was remaining open even though it was moving to the cold case team of the Suffolk and Norfolk Major Investigation Team