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A patient’s wish to get married has been granted by a local hospice, which arranged the service in just 24 hours.
Charles Hobbs, 67, – known as Chas – was admitted to Fair Havens in Prittlewell on September 15. He and partner Shirley Reason, who have been together for 13 years, decided to get married before Chas’ condition worsened.
Chas was diagnosed with cirrhosis a couple of years ago. Surviving a major operation 18 months ago, his condition has been steady but deteriorated in the last month whilst shielding at home during lockdown.
Shirley, 73 from Rayleigh, said: “We had been coping well at home, but eventually the 24-hour care became too much for me.
“My friend’s husband was cared for at the hospice when it was in Westcliff, and she recommended I reach out and ask for help.
“It was only very recently that we decided to get married, but I knew I couldn’t take on those arrangements myself. So the Spiritual Care lead, Martin Hill, liaised with my daughter to make the preparations within 24 hours.
“Staff have gone beyond any expectation you could imagine. The team pampered me, styled my hair, decorated the private garden outside Chas’ room and made a cake decorated with butterflies.”
The ceremony took place on Thursday September 17 in the family lounge within the hospice. It is the first wedding that has taken place at the new facility, which opened in March.
Chas’ twin brother, Phil Hobbs was a witness, alongside Martin, who says, “Everybody pulled together to arrange this celebration. When I was approached by Shirley’s daughter to organise the wedding, of course I said yes straight away, and then worked out how we could do it.
“It was an absolute team effort and the cooperation from Southend Registry Office was exceptional. When people realise that this is the wish of someone approaching the end of their life, it’s so important to get it right.”
Julie Stott-Skold, the Healthcare Assistant Line Manager at Fair Havens, said: “The time they have together is precious, so it was important to make their wedding day as special as possible. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Fair Havens is part of Havens Hospices. It provides palliative and supportive care both within the hospice and in the community completely free of charge, which can only happen thanks to the support and generosity of the local community.
To find out more about Havens Hospices, please visit www.havenshospices.org.uk