Surprise proposal for Edinburgh Napier alumni back where it all started

Mark returns to ‘The Egg’ at Craiglockhart to propose to Sarah

Date posted

12 December 2019


A couple who met at Edinburgh Napier whilst studying in 2008 have more reason than most to hold its Craiglockhart campus dearly in their hearts after returning to the University for a surprise proposal. Dr Sarah Borthwick and Mark Saddler

Dr Sarah Borthwick and partner Mark Saddler first met at Edinburgh Napier when they were students of its Business School at its Craiglockhart campus. 

The pair met by chance on an optional shared module, with Sarah studying Accounting and Mark studying Business Management. 

After dating each other for around a year in 2008/09, the pair – who are both from Edinburgh - went their separate ways but remained friends. 

In 2016, Sarah – who was now lecturing in accounting at Edinburgh Napier – noticed Mark was undertaking some accounting training to support his work in taxation and she contacted him on social media with an offer of help. After a long overdue catch-up in early 2017, the pair rekindled their relationship and the rest, they say, is history. 

That was until now. 

On being invited by Sarah to present a guest lecture at Craiglockhart for her business students, Mark worked his secret proposal into his slide show presentation and went down on one knee at the end of his lecture. The location was the iconic Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre – or The Egg as it is commonly known as – and to Mark’s delight, Sarah said yes. 

Sarah said: “We’ve been back together for nearly three years so I didn’t think it was completely improbable - I certainly had people asking when Mark was going to propose - but I never thought it would happen like that. 

“That was a brave move to ask in front of an audience, but proposing back on campus where we first met in 2008 was very fitting. The ‘Egg’ lecture theatre was a beautiful setting, with the sun shining over Edinburgh. It was a wonderful surprise.”

Mark added: “The proposal had been 12 months in the planning. I first thought about doing it after completing the same guest lecture for the second time in 2018, but it was really only an idea at that stage. 

“I bought a ‘marry me’ ring in approximately the right size (the information from a previous discussion about buying a ring at Christmas had been filed away for reference) and rearranged the order of my slides so that I could ask the question at the end. I figured if I’d asked it at the start nobody would have been able to concentrate afterwards; this way at least it was only me that knew what was coming.

“The most nerve-wracking part of the day was when I’d asked the question and she was speechless (something I’ve never experienced her being before now), those couple of seconds felt like an eternity before she managed to find her voice and say YES. Dr Sarah Borthwick and Mark Saddler

“I’m absolutely delighted, didn’t doubt it for a second that she would say anything other than yes, and I am still so glad that everything worked out. I was also a bit nervous when I visited Sarah’s parents in Bonnyrigg the night before to ask for their blessing and permission – it’s quite traditional but I know they appreciated both the gesture and the fact I didn’t have them sitting on a whopper of a surprise for too long.”

The couple’s links with Edinburgh Napier doesn’t stop there, however. Mark’s father graduated from Napier College in 1979 before going on to complete teacher training at the city’s Moray House where he met his future wife. They have also subsequently found out that their own engagement date is the same as Sarah’s parents back in 1985. 

Sarah added: “The response has been incredible. Obviously it’s very special to us, but the reaction from friends, family, colleagues and students has been amazing. I’m still buzzing from it. We’ve got Christmas to look forward to now and wedding planning can commence in the New Year!”