Published on: Thursday 13 Jun 2019 at 12:04
Inpatient Dave renews his wedding vows with lifelong love, Margaret, surrounded by friends and family in our Sanctuary
The couple, who had been married for 54 years and together for 58, wanted to re-affirm their love for each other during Dave’s temporary stay on the Inpatient Unit.
When inpatient Dave Lea was asked whether he had any unfulfilled wishes, he said ‘I’d like to renew my vows’. This came as a bit of a shock to his wife, Margaret, to whom he had been married for 54 years. “Dave said ‘I’d like to renew our vows, how do you feel about it?’” said Margaret. “Well, how could I say no? I just want to do whatever makes him happy.”
Dave and Margaret first met when Margaret was 15 and Dave was 18. They met through friends. “It wasn’t love at first sight,” said Margaret. “I thought he was a ‘jack-the-lad’.” Dave, however, was instantly smitten.
They married on Thursday 2nd August 1965 at Hackney Town Hall, on a rainy day. Dave was 21 and Margaret was 19. “It was just a registry service,” said Dave, “only half the family were there, we didn’t have a reception and I was back at work the next day.” That’s why Dave wanted to have a special service, with his family around him, to help him celebrate his many years of marriage to his wife Margaret in a very special way.
Lynne Hooper, Inpatient Unit Manager at St Clare Hospice, said: “We care for the whole person and the whole circle of family and friends at St Clare Hospice; respecting and encouraging individuality, dignity and self-esteem underpins all that we do.
“Supporting Dave and Margaret to renew their vows is a wonderful example of how we help our palliative care patients make the most of every moment, no matter how long they have left to live. It was a beautiful service and we are so pleased that we were able to bring them this joyful experience.”
Staff at St Clare Hospice quickly got to work, organising a chaplain; smart outfits for Dave and Margaret; a cake for the big day; flowers for Margaret and their granddaughter, Bethany, who Dave wanted to ‘give him away’; and Dave and his son’s buttonhole flowers. All of the flowers were generously donated by Joy Flowers, whilst the St Clare charity shop Scarlet Vintage & Retro provided the suit and champagne glasses from their wedding boutique. Hospice chef, Sam, made the cake.
Within three days everything was ready, with the vow renewal set to take place on Saturday 25th May, at 1pm. Margaret spread the word to all her family and very close friends and they all arrived on mass, milling in the Inpatient Unit whilst waiting to be seated.
The Hospice’s Sanctuary, usually used for quiet prayer and reflection, was quickly turned into a chapel – where the chaplain, Joyce, awaited the loving couple. Hospice staff decorated the pillars of the Inpatient Unit with flowers, and laid petals on the floor leading to the chapel so that Dave and Margaret’s walk to the chapel was filled with beauty and romance!
Tension mounted in Dave’s room, where he had got ready alongside Margaret, and a few ‘pre-wedding’ photographs were taken of Margaret and Dave, along with their grandchildren Bethany, Rhiannon and Ryan.
When the time came, Dave emerged from his room smiling with his thumb up, as the nurses on the Inpatient Unit blew kisses and wished them well. Dave and Margaret made their way to the Sanctuary and Dave’s ‘favourite nurse’ Maria, pushed Dave’s wheelchair so that Margaret could walk alongside him.
As Dave and Margaret entered the Sanctuary, Dave’s favourite song ‘You are my sunshine’ was playing. Surrounded by their close friends and family, Dave and Margaret listened as Joyce compared love and marriage to a pebble, which has been shaped over the years but is smoother, and more beautiful, as a result.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Dave and Margaret renewed their vows. “Dave managed every word,” beamed Margaret proudly, after the ceremony. The chaplain then blessed the rings, which Dave said was his ‘favourite part of the wedding’ and Dave was allowed to ‘kiss the bride’ once more!
Dave encouraged his family and friends to serenade him and Margaret, by joining in as ‘You are my sunshine’ was played again, whilst more photos were taken. Then, the ‘wedding party’ spilled out into the Sanctuary’s garden where everyone mingled, and – with a little bucks fizz and prosecco – toasted the happy couple.
The sun shone and everyone smiled, enjoying the moment and being in the company of those who were most dear to them. “What a wonderful day we had,” said Margaret afterwards. “It will never be forgotten. It is amazing that the Hospice team managed, in just two days, to arrange our wedding – our ‘REAL’ wedding, in David’s words. We are all so grateful to them for making David’s wishes come true.”