A DENBIGHSHIRE soldier bound for Afghanistan drove more than 1,000 miles for love after starting a romance online with a woman back in his home town.
Gavin Hughes, 26, has been in the British army since he was 16-years-old and is now on his third tour in Afghanistan as a Bombardier.
But just before being deployed from his base in Germany Gavin’s new relationship with Rhiannon Petrou, from Denbigh, was blossoming online.
Like a lot of modern relationships they started talking on Facebook.
Gavin had first seen Rhiannon working in The Plough in Denbigh more than two years ago but waited until March this year before finally messaging her.
Gavin said: “From then on the next few weeks we talked a lot all day and night.
“One night, I phoned her we talked for hours we get on unbelievably well better than we could of ever imagined, we both really wanted to meet up, to see if we got on this well in person.”
The next day Gavin was told he was being deployed to Afghanistan in two weeks time.
But Gavin was determined to see Rhiannon and drove 13 hours from Germany to Denbigh and instantly felt the same connection they had over the phone.
He said: “From then on we were inseparable knowing I didn't have much time we made the most of our time together.
“We didn't expect to get on so perfectly.
“I made sure she knew what she was getting herself into as it’s not easy being with a soldier I will be away a lot and in dangerous places.”
Rhiannon, who is a fulltime mum to 13 month old Ella-May, will start a fitness and exercise course in Deeside College in September.
She said: “We spent everyday together we get on so well already it’s strange.
“The are pulling out of Afghanistan this year so I don’t think they will be going back again but he is based in Germany when he’s not on tour so it will still be long distance.”
During Gavin’s second week at home he was called back to Germany driving more than 650 miles back.
He then flew from the base to Birmingham and to the RAF Brize Norton before his flight to Afghanistan.
He said: “I got there Sunday April 13 and found out I wasn't flying out till early Tuesday morning. So that night I decided to surprise Rhiannon and drove 200 miles back home. I was very tired at this point after all the travelling but was well worth it to spend the night with her.
“I'm now in Afghanistan thousands of miles away both really missing each other writing letters to each other not knowing when I will be home next but both really looking forward to the day we can be together again.”
Rhiannon said: “He came all this way just to spend the day with me and he had to leave at 2am in the morning.
“I was so happy as I didn’t think I’d see him for eight months.
“I know it’s only been a few weeks – it feels like a movie and it’s happened in real life.”