The widow of bomb disposal hero Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid has spoken of her new love for the first time.
Christina Schmid, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, said she believes she has his blessing after starting a relationship with Mark Clarke, who she met in a coffee shop queue.
The mother of one said her son Laird is already asking if the pair will marry and has accepted his mother’s new partner, who is himself a member of the Armed Forces and has served in Afghanistan.
Speaking to Hello! magazine, Mrs Schmid, 36, said: “Mark gets me completely, and I get him. It’s refreshing, comfortable and easy. Some people don’t find that once in a lifetime, I’ve been fortunate to find it twice.
“Having Mark in my life hasn’t changed the way I feel about Oz. He is always in my heart and spiritually he’s always by my side.
“I didn’t know if I would ever be able to love again after I lost Oz, but Mark has taught me that I can; that I have a lot of love still left to give and a lot of life left to live.”
Staff Sergeant Schmid, 30, of the Royal Logistic Corps - who was known as Oz - disarmed 64 improvised explosive devices before he was killed as he tried to defuse another. He was on the eve of returning home to his wife and her son, who they raised together.
Mrs Schmid, who accepted the George Cross on her late husband’s behalf, said she believes he would have liked her new partner “very much” and added: “We did have a discussion once, Oz and I, about how he’d feel about me meeting someone new.
“He said: ‘If anything happens to me, honey, you and Laird have got each other, and nothing can break that, but if you meet someone who will look after you, then that’s lovely’.
“So I feel I have his blessing.”
Mrs Schmid, who lives with her eight-year-old son in Hampshire, told the magazine that she misses her husband every day and still loves him, adding: “Meeting Mark has not in any way diminished the strength of love for my husband.”
Mrs Schmid and Mr Clarke, 30, who met six months ago, are now discussing having a blessing to symbolise their “new start” to their friends and relatives - but she said it is too soon to say if they will marry.
She added: “Mark is a big part of my life. But at the same time, I am a widow and I am aware that I have to be dignified.
“I have my closest friends to consider, many of whom are also Oz’s dearest friends. Whoever comes into my life must be able to get on with them. Luckily, Mark has.
“I feel that, in some ways, I have been pigeon-holed as a grieving widow and campaigner - and don’t get me wrong, I was that woman. But I achieved what I set out to achieve, and now I want to move forward. I want to leave that woman in the past and look to the future.”
Mrs Schmid has written a book about her life with her husband, and the impact of his death, called Always By My Side - but added that now it was time to “move on to the next chapter”.
Her full interview is in the current issue of Hello! magazine.