Craig McKinnon proposed to Jess Prinsloo at a renowned beauty spot, making it the happiest day of his life.
However, just four days after his proposal, while they were on an idyllic holiday in South Africa, the love of his life, Jess Prinsloo, passed away.
It is believed that Jess, who was 24 years old and had an acute dairy allergy, died from a fatal reaction after stirring her tea with the wrong spoon.
As a result, instead of planning a wedding with his "gorgeous" fiancée, Craig, who is 24 years old, is now facing life without her.
On Monday, he returned to the UK with the ashes of Jess.
On December 27th, Craig proposed to his partner at the God's Window viewpoint in Mpumalanga, during a week-long dream trip to South Africa.
He said: "Lots of her family live in South Africa and she hadn't been back in six years, so I knew there was no better place to propose.
"My voice cracked as I got down on one knee and asked, 'Will you marry me?' She said, 'Oh my God' and started crying before she said yes.
"The look on her face… it meant everything."
For the next few days, they celebrated with Champagne and "lots of laughter", before visiting Jess's mother's house in Johannesburg on December 30th.
It was at her mother's house where Jess was exposed to dairy.
Within seconds, she experienced an anaphylactic reaction, a potentially fatal reaction that causes the throat to close up. She passed away in the hospital the next day, on New Year's Eve.
Marketing executive Jess always carried two EpiPens for emergency treatment in case of an anaphylactic reaction, but on this occasion, they were not able to save her. Craig stated: "When Jess died, a part of me died too – but there is no one to blame for her passing away.
"But, God, she'd had several near-misses."
Craig, met Jess at university in 2019 and they moved in together after the pandemic lockdown in 2021.
On the day of her illness, he remembered being awakened by Jess's brother, who informed him that she was having a severe reaction.
Craig said: "Jess was sitting on the toilet lid, really struggling to breathe. She had used an EpiPen, but it wasn't having the effect it normally has."
Jess was taken to the hospital where doctors made efforts to save her, but unfortunately, they were not successful.
Craig believes that the years of allergic reactions had a cumulative effect on Jess, who had been allergic to dairy since she was 9 months old. He remembered Jess telling him about how she had to be revived after consuming milk in a curry when she was 18 years old.
He said: "Another time, she ordered a vegan dessert which shouldn't have had dairy and she needed antihistamines, an EpiPen and a hospital trip. I haven't eaten dairy for about three years because it just wasn't worth the risk."
After Jess's death, Craig, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, had to pay medical bills of £3,700 and additional £1,200 in coroner's fees.
His mother and Jess's brother Darren, 20, started a GoFundMe page to cover the bills and to fund her funeral in South Africa on January 6th.
But Craig, who is also planning another farewell for Jess in the UK, wants to raise awareness about allergies.
He said: "It is something people cannot control and it can kill them.
"I just want people to listen and understand how serious this is."