A romantic groom-to-be surprised his girlfriend on Christmas Eve by popping the question - with the help of a food delivery Robot.

Ben Hogan, 39, says his now-fiancée Sherri Dawes, 38, has a 'strange obsession' with the little Starship robots, which are used to make grocery deliveries around Milton Keynes.

So Ben thought he would give Sherri a Christmas present to remember - by enlisting the help of manufacturer Starship Technologies to help him propose.

The sneaky app developer planned out the big moment for weeks, even visiting the Starship Technologies headquarters in Milton Keynes to do a trial run of the proposal.


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And Sherri was overwhelmed on December 24 when she stepped out of the couple's house in Kempston, Beds., to see one of her favourite little robots waiting for her in the street - with a ring hidden inside.

Sherri said: "I was very excited just to see it there - I thought it was bringing chocolate or alcohol for Christmas or something.

"But then when Ben opened up the lid and revealed what was inside - it was amazing."

And Ben added: "Sherri has a strange obsession with these robots.

"We don't actually live in Milton Keynes, but we often pop there to go to the shops, and she'll just stand and watch them go past.

"She thinks they all have their own individual personalities, and they interact with each other.

"And what's funny is that the people at Starship actually told me that she's right - they do all have their own unique little glitches, and will do things in their own individual ways, like the way they mount a curb."

Ben said that Starship Technologies were 'brilliant' in helping him plan out the big day, after he approached them asking if they could be a part of it.

He said: "I told them we don't live in Milton Keynes, but asked if there was anything they could do - and they said they would be honoured.

"They were brilliant - they didn't want anything from me in return, they said they were just happy to help.

"They let me go down to their factory in Milton Keynes and pick out a brand new robot for the job, which had all been cleaned and programmed ready to go.

"We did a little trial run to make sure it would all go smoothly.

"Then on Christmas Eve, I had to be really sneaky and make sure all the curtains were kept closed so Sherri didn't see the van arriving and setting up outside."

Ben had filled the Starship delivery robot with a bed of dried rose petals and the gorgeous, engraved silver ring box, reading 'Ben & Sherri' on it.

And Sherri was stunned when Ben lead her outside their home and got down on one knee after opening up the lid of the robot.

The mum-of-two wasn't the only one overcome by emotion - as her two children Lily, 12, and Ronnie, nine, as well as Ben's daughter Sofia, nine, hugged each other and cried with joy in the background.

Ben said: "I had had to throw the kids right off the scent as well, so that nothing got back to Sherri. So it was a really amazing family moment."

Ben and Sherri only met five months before the first lockdown last March - and decided to move in together when Boris Johnson announced the initial set of Covid restrictions.

Ben said: "This has possibly been the best year of our lives.

"I do feel somewhat guilty saying that, because some people have been through a really horrible time.

"But we are so lucky. For us, it has been a really positive year.

"We've moved in together, got engaged, and Sherri has even started her own business selling mugs on Etsy, which is going really well.

"It's been amazing.

"I was sick of seeing crap news, so I feel so lucky that we've had such a good journey."