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Hospice staff and volunteers pulled together to give a 32-year-old woman with incurable cancer a “beautiful” wedding day to remember.
Heather and Richard Odams tied the knot surrounded by family and close friends in the picturesque gardens of Ashgate Hospice in Old Brampton, Chesterfield.
The couple, who live in Chesterfield, had planned to get married in June but had to bring the service forward to 21st April due to Heather’s illness.
She was set to receive fertility treatment in the hope of starting a family when a biopsy in March revealed Heather had incurable endometrial cancer.
Staff and volunteers at the charity “went above and beyond” to ensure their special day was as close to what they had already planned as possible.
Among those in attendance was Heather’s brother, Mitch Needham, who flew over from Switzerland to walk her down the aisle and give her away.
“It was a really beautiful day,” said groom Richard, aged 41, who is originally from Nottingham. “It seemed to go in a flash just like every wedding does, but we had such a lovely time.
“It was mentioned to the staff at Ashgate that we were supposed to be getting married in June and they just rallied around and took everything off our hands really – everyone was just so brilliant.
“It was pretty much a case of turning up on the day and everything was sorted. We can’t thank them enough.”
The couple, who met online in 2017, shared their vows inside the hospice’s summer house at the rear of the hospice, which was decorated with flowers and rose petals.
They also took part in an intimate hand-fasting ceremony – an ancient ritual in which the hands are tied together to symbolise the binding of two people’s lives – in respect of Richard’s pagan faith.
Richard said: “Heather had been in a quite a lot of pain beforehand but that soon went away with her feeling the love.
“She was so happy with how everything went and thought it was such a beautiful day.
“They organised everything for us in such a short space of time. Everyone at the hospice has just gone above and beyond what we could have imagined.”
Heather has been receiving care on Ashgate’s Inpatient Unit since the beginning of April, where staff have been able to manage her pain and ensure she is comfortable as possible.
Richard, a psychic medium, added: “The care has just been excellent since we arrived; Heather and I are just so grateful to the staff and volunteers here.
“When she was in pain, as her husband, you just feel so helpless and want to take that pain away, but you can’t. On a selfish level you feel like you’re being robbed of that precious time you have together.
“But it’s been a complete change around since coming to the hospice – it’s amazing what they’ve been able to do.”
Heather, who moved to North Derbyshire from Fort McMurray in Canada, worked as a community care worker before her illness and had been accepted onto a midwifery nursing programme in Sheffield after completing a college course last year.