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A grandfather with incurable cancer was able to marry his beloved partner of 24 years at Ashgate Hospice thanks to the support of the charity’s “fantastic” staff and volunteers.
Paul Deffley tied the knot with his wife Hilary Deffley at the Chesterfield hospice earlier this month.
The 71-year-old, who has prostate and bone cancer, which has spread to his spine, has received care on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit for the past seven weeks.
The couple, from Eckington, celebrated their special day at the Old Brampton hospice on 11 November surrounded by their close family.
When staff at Ashgate heard Paul had popped the question, they got to work and organised the special occasion in less than a week.
Paul, a former foundry and factory worker, who was diagnosed in 2017, said the wedding was “just beautiful” and praised the hospice for getting “every detail just right”.
He said: “We have been together for 24 years and it got to the stage where instead of Hilary being a partner, I wanted her to be my wife!
“I made the decision to ask Hilary a couple of weeks ago but without the hospice and the help of local businesses it wouldn’t have happened.
“They helped with the flowers, the car, the cake, the chairs – everything was just done up beautifully.
“Everyone at Ashgate has just been fantastic and I can’t fault them at all. All the staff got together and not only fixed the wedding together, but they all wanted to attend it.
“I’ve got really close to the staff since I’ve been here, and they all came along to watch and were crying. They’re all brilliant and I’m so grateful for their love and support.”
Hilary, 61, who stopped working as a carer a couple of years ago so she could care for Paul, added: “It was a shock to me when Paul asked me the question – I wasn’t expecting it!
“The wedding was absolutely lovely. They managed to get Paul’s suit, shirt and everything on. He looked lovely – if I do so say myself!
“Ashgate has gone above and beyond for us and to have all our family there was so special.”
Hilary’s children, Leanne, Nicola, Daniel, Natalie and Shannon, and Paul’s son Lee, were all in attendance at the ceremony, which took place in the hospice’s Inpatient Unit.
The pair met in 1998 at their local pub, The West End, which has now closed, and have fond memories of going on holidays to the likes of Greece and Spain together.
Asked what they put their longevity down to, Paul said: “We just don’t fall out – it’s as simple as that. We both get on and seem to have the same ideas; we just want the same thing as one another.”
Paul, who was in extreme pain when he was admitted to Ashgate at the beginning of October, insists he feels like “a new man” after the care he has received.
He has now returned home where he will continue receiving care, but says he is keen to return to Ashgate if his condition deteriorates.
Ashgate Hospice would like to thank the businesses which helped make Paul and Hilary’s wedding so special, including:
“I’ve been taken good care of by everyone here at Ashgate and have been able to focus on spending time and making memories with Hilary and my family,” added Paul.
“I had concerns about coming in here; you get things in your head about hospices and that’s what happened to me. I soon realised – even on the first day I was here –that it was the right thing for me to do.
“I was struggling quite a lot before I came in as I had been in pain for a long time. I was putting up with it and it just wouldn’t go away. Then when I came to the hospice, they knew what to do and sorted it right away.
“Everyone is so friendly, and everyone is on first name terms – it just feels like a home, away from home.”
Right now, Ashgate Hospice is calling for the community to support its Christmas Appeal to ensure they can continue to be there for patients like Paul and their families in the future.
To support Ashgate Hospice’s Christmas Appeal click the button below.