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Tuesday 4th August 2020

Man wins £1 bet... bags a wife (and a baby)!

That's what you call a gamble that paid off

Pontins Bluecoat Ria Alderman was performing at the holiday park in Lowestoft, Suffolk, when she met Robert Gurney in August 2008.

He was immediately enchanted by her.

But after a week at the park he was skint.

With just a pound to his name, he vowed to stay if he won big on the fruit machines.

He bagged £250, stayed the night – and now the couple are married and have a daughter, Lyla, who has just turned one.

Ria, now 30 and a bank worker, said: “I owe my marriage to a £1 bet on the fruit machines. He definitely hit the jackpot.”

Ria had been working as a dancer at the park for a year when she met Robert.

She had been entertaining guests at the late night disco with fellow blue coat singer Sarah Harrison, 27, when they met Robert and his cousin Dan Tate, 34, who were staying at the resort on a family holiday.

The group immediately connected and the next day Ria chatted again with Robert and Dan at the late night bar while they watched a comedienne.

Ria said: “We used to talk to guests and get on with them but I’d never made any friends.

“The following day, Saturday, was my 22nd birthday and jokingly I said you should stay the extra night, as they were supposed to go home on the Saturday morning.”

Robert and Dan tried their luck on the slot machines and won the £70 jack pot with a £1 bet.

The next day Robert and Dan joined the birthday festivities and Robert even met her parents, Mitchell Alderman, 58, and Christine Alderman, 59, who were visiting for the weekend.

The couple shared a kiss and exchanged contact details before parting ways the next day.

And a few days later Robert messaged Ria asking if he could stay the weekend.

“It started from there,” she said. “He used to live in London and he’d travel down every Friday after work at 3pm, he’d get to Pontins at half past seven and leave on Monday to go to work.

“He did it every weekend for a year, apart from one weekend when he went to Wembley to see Millwall, but he even managed to visit on the Sunday night.”

Robert was also giving a lift to his cousin Dan, who had also struck up a relationship with Ria’s best friend Sarah.

After a year she left Pontins and moved into a flat with Robert in Isle of Sheppy, Kent.

And in June 2011 the pair moved to Kettering, where Ria grew up, and got engaged a month later.

They set their wedding date for 2013 but sadly, dad Mitchell was diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer in August 2012.

The couple moved their wedding forward to November 24, 2012, but Mitchell died on Halloween.

After much soul-searching, the couple decided to tie the knot, with Ria’s brother Ashley, 26, walking her down the aisle.

Sarah was also a bridesmaid for Ria.

Ria said: “We still went ahead, it was tough, but we did it.

“It was hard but the wedding had his touch and if we postponed it he wouldn’t have been involved.

“It was my dad who said Robert was a keeper because he couldn’t believe he was happy to travel to Pontins every weekend from London.”

Now the couple are happily married and welcomed their first child on July 22, 2015.

And the family have made the trip back to Pontins to reminisce about where their relationship blossomed.

Ria said: “Thanks to that bet I’m married and have Lyla, and Sarah and Dan are engaged.

She continued: “I think it’s so normal but people are amazed when I tell them the story of how we met.

“It is strange to think it’s all because of Pontins and a bet.”

Robert said: “Dan had never played the fruit machine before and he won £250 on his first go.

He continued: “The next night was £70 and we both really didn’t want to go because we’d met Sarah and Ria the night before.

“We’d been talking about them all day and we really didn’t want to go home.

“So we decided to stay the extra night and see what happened.

He continued: “It’s really weird that we’re together because of Pontins and fruit machines.

“It’s strange how all four of us are still together all these years later.”