To mark Valentine’s Day, we are bringing you a story of long-lasting love between a Bridport couple to warm your heart.

Paul and Clare Violet have shared their love story.

Paul Violet from Drimpton and Clare Hallett from Bridport, went out on their first date on October 1 1985.

It went well and they fell in love – so much so that in January 1986, whilst waiting for Clare at the bottom of Hardy Road, Coneygar Lane, Paul carved their names above and below a cupid’s heart with an arrow in the bark of a large beech tree with a pocket knife.

The couple became engaged on Midsummer’s Day in 1987 before getting married on September 17 1988 and lived in a small cottage in Bradpole.

They became a family when they welcomed their daughter, Rebecca, in February 1995.

The carving remained as a reminder of their early days in love, with Paul and Clare occasionally walking past and noting that the heart was still there and being brought to Rebecca’s attention around the age of 10.

Close friends and family would often refer to the beach tree as ‘Paul and Clare’s Tree’, or as Paul and Clare often remarked, ‘our tree’.

They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on September 17 2018, with a surprise trip for Clare on the Belmond Pullman and the Orient Express to Paris. One of their presents at their celebration was a framed photograph of Paul’s carving on the beech tree, which by now had been carved 32 years ago.

Shortly after their anniversary, Paul read in the Bridport News that a beech tree in Coneygar Lane was going to be felled due to disease, and with a sinking heart, Paul knew it was ‘their tree’, which was confirmed when he saw the tree with a felling order attached.

Within a few hours of speaking to Dorset County Council as to when the tree would be felled, Paul received three phone calls from friends, informing him that the district council’s team had begun cutting the tree down.

Frantic negotiations enabled the team to save a section of the tree with Paul’s heart carving, which the couple now have, and Paul arrived just in time to collect it to see it being cut out.

Paul said: “It is really nice that, through fate I suppose, this all happened and we ended up with it.

“Eventually the bark will come away from the wood and I would like to pin it and frame it.

“Who would have thought that 32 years ago when I carved it, we would be here?

“When I was there collecting the wood, even the guys there were asking what happened to the girl and if we got married and I told them we had just celebrated 30 years of marriage.

“When you think about it, it is quite moving that the tree has stayed there all these years.”

Dorset County Council arboricultural manager, Steve Maros, said: "It is good to know that romance is still alive. The Dorset County Council Tree Team, whilst felling a dangerous old tree, were touched by the story of the carved heart on the tree trunk and offered to cut out the carved piece so that the person who originally carved it for his then girlfriend, now wife, could take it home as a happy reminder of all the great time they have spent together.

"It was a genuine and random act of kindness, which is a great example of how trees and the community are always interlinked.

"I was very proud of my team for being so thoughtful and making an old couple very happy."