Two rollercoaster superfans who met working at a theme park and got engaged on Nemesis at Alton Towers are planning to overcome the two-year closure of their favourite ride by visiting it during every week of its renovation.
Ben, 31, and Vicki, 30, who also both happen to have the surname Clarke, were both rollercoaster superfans, but it was not until November 2021, when they met at Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park, Sheffield, where they both worked, that sparks flew and soon after their obsession with Nemesis began.
They have ridden the infamous 50mph Alton Towers attraction over 700 times this year, visiting more than once a week, and have matching Nemesis tattoos.
On March 22, four months after their rollercoaster relationship began, Ben proposed to Vicki on Nemesis – and they are planning a theme park wedding for 2023.
When Nemesis announced it was closing its doors in November this year for refurbishments, the couple jumped at the chance to have one last ride on the famous coaster.
They refuse to be disheartened by the fact the ride will not reopen until 2024 and still plan to visit every week – pulling up deck chairs to watch as engineers bring their favourite ride back to life.
“It’s the whole package that we love,” explained Ben.
“The narrative, the fact that you’re underneath the track, it’s a fantastic story as well. We just love it.
“Nemesis connected us as a couple and holds a really special place for us, so to be able to share these moments on it was fantastic.”
After meeting at Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park, sparks flew when the couple went to Alton Towers Resort in November 2021.
“Now I work maintenance, and Vicki is a ride operator,” Ben said.
“But for the first two years I worked I was a ride operator as well. So when Vicki joined I was assisting her on a ride and we started talking about my Nemesis tattoo.”
He said: “From there we just could always chat about Alton Towers and Nemesis.
“This snowballed into us organising a day out at Alton Towers. We got fast-track tickets so that we could go on the rides all day with no queues.
“I’ve never met anyone who went on all the rides all day and it was great.”
Firmly on track for love, the couple bonded over their favourite rollercoaster and boarded it hundreds of times together.
“Every visit we ride Nemesis about 30 times,” he said.
“We go every week, sometimes two or three times a week. We’ve averaged it out about 700 times this year.”
In March, they were riding high when Ben popped the question at the top of their beloved spot.
“I knew I wanted to propose on Nemesis and when I spoke to Alton Towers they were really helpful,” Ben said.
“They said they could arrange for the train to stop on the lift hill, the climb up the rollercoaster. So that’s what we did.”
He said: “On March 22, we arrived there. When I saw the manager on the other side of the station looking at me and then a member of staff stopped the public, so it was just me and Vicki there.
“That’s when she started to get suspicious.
“Then the train stopped on the lift hill and made a big clunk sound.”
He said: “Then I asked her to marry me – it was perfect.”
Ascending dizzying heights as a newly engaged couple, Vicki and Ben were flying high – but Ben was terrified the ring would not survive the ride.
“Then as we pulled into the station, all the staff members were there,” he said.
He said: “They’re all cheering and there’s a big banner that says ‘Will you marry me?’
“I then got the ring out of my pocket because I was scared of dropping it on the ride.”
The couple even have matching Nemesis tattoos.
“It’s been about two years I’ve been working on it, I went to the shop thinking I wanted a small one on my arm,” Ben said.
“Then the tattooist suggested what if you add more and have a big background and I went for that.
“So there’s the main loop and then the tagline ‘Sit back it’s fright time’ on the side and then more track round the side.”
He said: “It’s been a lot of repeat visits, about 10 hours in total.
“Mine came first on my left arm and then Vicki got her tattoo on her wrist this year.”
When Alton Towers Resort announced Nemesis was shut for refurbishment in November this year, the couple were devastated – but were determined to embark on one last ride, beating more than 15,000 competition entrants for the last seats.
“It’s sad but we know it’s to keep the ride going longer,” explained Ben.
“It was quite emotional and the staff were upset, one operator has been there since 1994 and we could see in his eyes.
“But the send-off was brilliant. It was the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at Alton Towers… and such a great way to send off Nemesis.”
Ben even got a welcome addition to his Nemesis tattoo.
“I actually got John Wardley, who created Nemesis, to sign my arm,” said Ben.
“I didn’t wash it off for two days and tried to keep the pen intact. I now have his signature tattooed on.”
He said: “Now my Nemesis tattoo is complete I think.”
Now, the couple are planning their theme park wedding.
“It would be great to involve Nemesis in the wedding if we can,” said Ben.
He said: “We need to speak to Alton Towers to see if there is a way but we’ll definitely have the reception at a theme park if we can.
“We’re thinking of having rollercoaster table names and giving guests fast-track bands for tickets. That could be cool.”
However, they will not stop their weekly visits to Alton Towers Resort, both excited to pull up deck chairs and watch as the engineers work on their favourite.
“We’re going to be keen to see the progress on it,” said Ben.
“It’s going to be really sad when those cranes are taking the track down. But I look at it positively.
“We’ve already got the deck chairs in the car ready for December.”
He said: “We’re going to sit in the car with a thermos and a blanket and just sit and look at the view from the car park.”
Vicki agrees it will be hard to let Nemesis go.
“It’s one of the rare rollercoasters where depending on where you sit you get a different ride experience,” she explained.
She said: “I wasn’t upset because it’s prolonging the life of the ride. But then we sat down on the last ride and I thought ‘this is it.’
“I did have a little tear. But we’ll still go to Alton Towers every week and watch the progress.”
Most of all Vicki feels happy she found her soulmate.
“I never met anyone who could repeat the ride before,” said Vicki.
“Nemesis really connected us and it’s something we share.
“Getting engaged on Nemesis was perfect. I did get a bit suspicious when we were queueing and Ben let some people in front of us.
“I had no idea he was going to pop the question though!”