Published: October 4, 2013
Brave Burnham-On-Sea couple hold emotional hospice wedding

A brave couple from near Burnham-On-Sea have tied the knot, 43 years after their original wedding, in an emotional 'bitter sweet' ceremony.

Don, 64, and Jen, 62, Steward from Watchfield held their ceremony in the chapel at Weston Hospicecare.

Don has suffered from a neurological problem for 20 years, which affects his mobility and he was also diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2012.

Despite having several rounds of chemotherapy, which have proved to be unsuccessful, he then had a few months on a growth inhibitor drug, which was also unsuccessful. His cancer is incurable.

But the couple have been together for 46 years, married for 43, and feel there is no better time to celebrate the life they have shared.

Don explains how they had wanted to have the ceremony on a cruise but due to his illness, it was not possible.

"I got talking to Karen, the Hospice Chaplain, during one morning in Day Hospice, telling her that Jen and I had always wanted to renew our wedding vows. I was upset that we had never achieved this, but Karen said we could do that at the hospice. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to tell Jen."

Jen said: "It felt bitter sweet to me. I didn’t want to think about our marriage blessing in the context of the Hospice, and how our lives are linked to it. But after discussing it with Don, I soon came to see how wonderful the idea was."

"Everyone at the hospice has become very dear to Don and myself since he started coming here in February. They were so excited once Don told them about the ceremony and I made some invites to hand out to everyone the week before."

Don and Jen’s special day - held last week - was full of special touches. "The Chapel was decorated with flowers, arranged by a Hospice volunteer, in colours that reflected those from our wedding day all those years ago. Hospice staff put up some personalised bunting for us and Peter, the chef, arranged a buffet for us and our guests, as well as a gorgeous cake. We had plenty of photos taken to remember the day and there was plenty of bubbly to go around."

Jen adds: "To top it all off, a vintage Beauford car whisked us off for a stay at the Beachlands Hotel!"

Weston Hospicecare had another surprise for the couple. Karen Murphy, Chaplain and Spiritual Leader at the Hospice, explained: "In special circumstances we can sometimes access funding for families who would benefit from a break or some time away. Fortunately, we were able to access this funding to pay for their stay at a hotel."

Karen added: "Don and Jen are such a fabulous couple that being able to help them with this has been an honour. Their life is packed full of wonderful stories and heart warming moments. They are a couple very much in tune with each other, and I have rarely met people so grateful for the life they share."

"I was honoured to be able to bless their marriage here at the Hospice and give them another fond memory to add to their endless collection."

Don told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I am so grateful to the Hospice, not just for the ceremony, but for their constant care and friendship. I’m a huge advocate of everything they do for me and everyone else who comes into contact with them."

Jen too has felt the unfaltering support of the Hospice: "I have never known a more welcoming, supportive or friendly group of people. Regardless of how difficult it can be to realise you need Hospice care, there really is nothing else like it. That they bent over backwards to help us achieve the special day we desperately wanted is proof of that."


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