Rob and Karen Cromey-Hawke
Karen (a single mum-of-two living and teaching in Germany) met Rob Cromey-Hawke (a soldier in the British Parachute Regiment and an officer in the Royal Engineers) back in 2010 while on holiday in the UK. After catching each-others eye in a bar near Rutland Water and exchanging numbers, their relationship quickly developed and Karen decided to move back to the UK to settle in Skipton - 50 miles from Rob’s base near Catterick in North Yorkshire. They had been together for a blissful 18 months before Rob proposed.
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However, tragedy struck in December 2012 when Karen and Rob were forced to postpone their wedding plans after Rob drove over a pothole containing an improvised explosive device while out serving in Afghanistan. The blast permanently damaged Rob’s memory and, as a result, he could not recall any of the happy memories he shared with Karen – including the day he proposed.
Karen recalls this time: “Rob went away this man I had fallen in love with and came back completely different. Before the accident he was very affectionate and wore his heart on his sleeve and would laugh and cry. He is a different person now.
We’ve had to build a new relationship. Both of us have had to fall in love all over again. Since the accident, pictures are so important. I have to stop myself saying, ‘Do you remember when…’ I just know the answer will be no.”
Following his accident, Rob was admitted seven times to Headley Court - a rehabilitation center dedicated to the armed forces. Though Headley Court provided Rob with the best possible medical care, it was a long way from Karen who was living in North Yorkshire.
SSAFA provided accommodation and support for Karen while Rob was under-going treatment at Headley Court. This time together allowed Rob and Karen to re-build their relationship and fill in the blanks that were missing in Rob’s mind. Karen remarks: “It was vital support. It meant we were able to work at our relationship at what was the hardest of times.”
Now four years on, the couple have had a baby girl called Pippa, and finally tied the knot on January 26th 2016.