A sentimental boyfriend left his girlfriend of five years speechless after proposing with a sea shell she found on their very first date together
On January 4, Topher Richwhite got down on one knee to propose to his adventure buddy, Bridgit Thackwray, using the tiny scalloped shell as a token of his affection.
The couple are well known for their round-the-world trip, expedition earth, which they embarked on together after just six weeks of dating.
Topher Richwhite, left, and Bridgit Thackwray, right, of expedition earth, recently got engaged
Topher proposed using this tiny shell, something Bridgit had given him on their very first date, at a beach in New Zealand
The couple have since been to 67 countries together – becoming fast adventure buddies – but never using the words ‘I love you’ on the road
More than 16,900 people have liked their engagement announcement on Instagram, which was posted a month after the initial heartwarming moment.
‘I was so happy I forgot to say yes,’ Bridgit told FEMAIL, noting they had delayed telling fans so they could inform loved ones first.
The young woman revealed she was shocked that despite all of their incredible adventures, through 67 countries, the moment she handed him the delicate little shell on the beach near their home in New Zealand continued to stand out for him.
‘He told me he wasn’t sure about marriage, but if he ever did propose he knew how he would do it,’ Bridgit said.
‘I hadn’t even remembered the shell.’
In the teary video caught by shocked relatives Topher explained the shell reminded him of Bridgit’s heart; beautiful and fragile.
The couple can be seen kissing here – on one side each of the Arctic line – the started their adventure six weeks after their first date
Cappadocia, Turkey, as seen from the roof of Gunther – the couple’s trusted Jeep
Topher had never had a girlfriend before Bridgit – but they are now inseparable
His wife-to-be explained Topher was 31 when they met and had ‘really enjoyed the single lifestyle’.
He had asked his psychologist about whether he should get into a relationship – and the doctor had warned him hearts are fragile and break if they are not cared for properly.
So when Bridgit caught his attention on the beach that first day and gave him the little shell, he couldn’t help but use the doctor’s words to compare the two.
The couple planned to travel 90 countries across seven continents – here they are in Namibia on the Skeleton Coast
They have even travelled to Siberia, Russia, together in their car
Italy’s Dolimite mountains have also hosted the couple who share a love for adventure
On the couple’s third trip Bridgit said she suggested they travel the world together, weeks later they set out to buy a car and begin their adventure.
They bought their Jeep Gunther in Canada and got to know each other in the front seat as they cruised toward the expedition starting point.
They planned to travel through 90 countries over three years, making visa and passport runs home to split the journey into three parts.
They put their stuff in storage and set off together – in Topher’s shed was a little silver box with the shell – a reminder to him not to drop Bridgit’s heart.
This photo was taken on Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, on a salt expedition during leg one of the adventure
Despite their obvious affection for each other and ability to get on Bridgit was never sure if there would be a wedding
It took Topher four years to tell Bridgit he loved her.
They had been a couple through their adventure but she thinks he only felt safe to say it once ‘things worked’ when they got back to the real world – after abandoning their car in Russia when Covid was declared a pandemic.
‘We have been inseparable since the start though,’ she said.
‘We haven’t spent a night away from each other, we are always together.’
They have since moved to a remote property where they live in a tiny house.
Pictured in front of Torres Del Paine, Chile – during leg one of the trip – the couple say their families were very supportive of the adventure
They have come across incredible landscapes and met friendly locals during their time on the road
Topher wanted to make Bridgit a ring but because they prefer to be with each other all the time the task proved impossible.
‘Last year he went into town by himself two days in a row, telling me he needed to buy me a Christmas present.’
‘On the second day I told him I didn’t need one, not wanting him to go again.’
During his time ‘in town’ Topher had actually purchased the diamond for a ring, which he presented to Bridgit with the first-date shell.
Monument Valley was also on their first leg – mere months after they had met
Lake Tuz, Turkey, was featured in the second leg of their trip – by this time they were in tune with each other
Now the couple have a tiny house in the far north of New Zealand where they live an hour from the closest town
The couple are yet to decide if they will have a big wedding or get hitched overseas somewhere.
‘The wedding planning is getting pushed back a bit, the next priority is rescuing our car Gunther, who is in Russia.
‘We have to get up there and move hime before the end of March or he will be sold off.’
The couple can’t continue on their planned route as many of the countries are closed.
They also travel to remote communities and don’t want to spread the disease.