A soldier surprised his bride-to-be with a unique wedding ring he hand made from an old penny while serving on the frontline.

Bombardier Ben McDowell delighted his now fiancee Jolene Riley with a wedding band he meticulously worked himself while he was on tour in Afghanistan.

The 19-year-old could not believe her luck when Ben got down on one knee after just ten months together and popped the question.

But she got an even bigger surprise when 24-year-old Ben showed her the ring he had created from an Afghani coin using just a rock, hammer and sandpaper.

She said: “Before Ben left for his nine-month tour of Afghanistan, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas.

“I don’t like him spending money on me, so I thought of the cheapest thing I could think of and asked for a penny from Afghanistan as a sentimental gift.

“That’s the only thing I have ever asked him for, but obviously his mind went into overdrive and he thought up this amazing surprise.”

Jolene added: “He isn’t usually the romantic type, so everyone has been completely shocked by what he has done.

“He proposed as soon as we got back to his house when he got home from Afghanistan. I wasn’t expecting it at all, but he was so nervous – his whole body was shaking!”

Jolene, from Sutton, fell head over heels for Ben after the pair started chatting online in June last year.

She added: “It was undoubtedly love at first sight from the very first time I met Ben.

“I even proposed to him while he was away in Afghanistan, but he said he wanted to do everything right. So I was gobsmacked when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Romantic Ben spent three months painstakingly working the ring before sending it to UK jewellers Serendipity Diamonds to be gold-plated.

And Ben also designed the white gold engagement ring he proposed with – all from his Army base in Afghanistan.

Jolene said: “It is just so amazing, and it means so much more to me knowing how much thought he has put into it. It is something unique I can treasure for ever.”