When Gemma White’s boyfriend told her they had won a trip to Sealife Centre she had no idea that something fishy was going on.

Russell Higgins told his girlfriend of two years they were competition winners but he had secretly planned to propose to her.

During a ride on the Brighton centre’s glass bottom boat Miss White, 28, was shocked to see a diver among the sharks and fishes with a sign saying “Will you marry me?”

Mr Higgins, 27, then got down on one knee and proposed with a 12 diamond engagement ring.

After accepting his proposal a shocked Miss White, who is a special needs teacher at Grove Park School in Crowborough, said: “I was absolutely shocked. All I knew this morning was that we were going to the Sealife Centre and that we would be having a ride on the glass bottomed boat.

“I didn’t have a clue about anything else. When I saw the divers I just thought they were feeding the fish or cleaning and then I saw them hold up the sign.”

The happy couple were cheered by visitors who were stood around the edge of the tank.

Mr Higgins, who works for a marketing company and also sings in a band called Born In A Barn, said: “I just wanted to do something a bit different and this seemed to tick all of the boxes."

Miss White said: “This was the perfect place to propose as I love tropical fish and every holiday we always go somewhere where we can go swimming and snorkelling.”

The couple, who live in Ringmer, met about eight or nine years ago when Miss White used to visit a bar Mr Higgins worked in.

But they only started dating after meeting each other again through the social networking site Facebook.

Max Leviston, general manager of the Sealife Centre, said: “Russell is already showing an interest in getting married and having the reception here, so it could be a trio of events.”