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Bride-to-be surprises cancer patient fiancé with special ward wedding at Clatterbridge

2 weeks ago

Bride-to-be surprises cancer patient fiancé with special ward wedding at Clatterbridge
Credit Carpe Diem Wedding Photography

On what should have been his wedding day Richard Nash was in hospital recovering from a stem cell transplant to treat cancer. 

But instead of letting the day pass without ceremony, bride-to-be Louise Day decided to make it just as special, arriving at Clatterbridge Hospital wearing her bridal gown, and presenting Richard with a promise ring before reading out a heartfelt vow of love.

Louise, 35, says:

“Richard is the hopeless romantic and I’m the one who never shows emotion or does anything extravagant.

“So after everything he’s been through over the last 18 months, and what’s been a difficult and emotional rollercoaster, I wanted to do something to make him happy and still commemorate the day.

“I’m so proud of Richard. I don’t know if I’d have been able to cope in his position and yet he’s the one who’s so strong and spends more time picking me up even now.

“I wanted to let him know that I never want him to change – just to get better.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Louise poured out her heart to the 44-year-old construction senior contracts manager. And certainly not Richard’s.

Credit Carpe Diem Wedding Photography

He said:

“I’ve got what Louise read written down, but that’s private between the two of us, but she told me she loves me and that I’ve made her life complete, things that made me feel amazing.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve but Louise doesn’t, so it was just lovely to hear.”

“I had never believed love at first sight existed until I met Louise, and when our eyes met it was a bit of a lightning moment.

“Now I’m looking forward to our wedding that’s been rearranged for September and spending the rest of my life – cancer free – with the woman who’s kept me going.”

Richard and Louise met through work – she is a senior buyer for Murphy – in 2021 and after setting up home together in Ormskirk, had planned to marry on May 11 this year.

Life seemed perfect for them and the three children they share between them, Richard’s son George, 13, and Louise’s daughter Harlow, 12, and 10-year-old son Sebastian.

But in October 2022, Richard was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a very aggressive and fast-moving form of cancer.

“In the weeks before I’d been feeling tired.  Even sweeping up in the garden left me shattered,” says Richard. “I went to our head office in London and a 10-minute walk took me an hour; and I looked grey.”

After dismissing his symptoms Richard finally went to see his GP and, following blood tests, got a 7pm call from his doctor to go straight to Whiston Hospital, where he received an immediate blood transfusion and began three courses of chemotherapy from October to January 2023.

Once in remission, the couple looked forward to their life ahead. Richard proposed on May 8 and their wedding was planned for a year later.

“Everything seemed fine and that summer we travelled to Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Barcelona, having an amazing time and living each day to the full together,” says Richard.

But their happiness was shattered in September 2023 when the cancer came back, and after more chemo Richard was told that he needed a stem cell transplant to survive.

Credit Carpe Diem Wedding Photography

Richard explained:

“They could have just kept treating me but it would have just kept coming back and there’s only so much you can take,”

After being transferred to Clatterbridge Cancer Centre who contacted the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register, a transplant donor was found: “We found out on December 24,” smiles Louise, “and it was the best Christmas present we could ever have been given, the chance of life for Richard.”

He had the transplant operation last Wednesday, May 8, for which he was hugely grateful. But it still meant that he was in a hospital ward recovering when he and Louise should have been saying ‘I do’ in front of family and friends at Rylands Farmhouse in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

“I only decided to surprise Richard on the Tuesday before,” says Louise, “because I wanted the day to be about us still.  When we postponed the wedding the photographer had said he would still keep the day free and maybe take engagement photos so I checked if he was still available. I asked if it was okay with the hospital, and it all kind of spiralled.”

Louise contacted a balloon company to arrange for a balloon with the words ‘Future Mr & Mrs Nash’ and got in touch with a friend of Richard’s to get an idea of ring size before buying an engagement band for him.

“I contacted the wedding caterer to make up a grazing board for us and got one of Richard’s suits packed in a case for him to wear and, because you can’t take fresh flowers into the hospital, I went to Hobbycraft and made my own bouquet and a buttonhole for Richard.

“Then I got my dress ready (I have another one for September which is very different).”

Credit Carpe Diem Wedding Photography

Richard began to be suspicious on Saturday morning when the Ring doorbell notification pinged on his phone but he couldn’t see anything because Louise had covered their camera so nothing would give the game away. The first clue was when the photographer arrived and told Richard to put the suit on!

At midday, Louise swapped the wedding aisle for the ward, and made her very special entrance into the hospital.

“When Louise walked in I hugged her, and when she read her speech I was in tears,” says Richard. “I think everyone in the room was.

“I’ve been in and out of hospital for the last 20 months and it can get lonely and rubbish and boring, so people coming to visit you is exciting, but this blew everything out of the park.

“I love Louise and thought everything was amazing before – but after this and all we’ve been through it’s on another level.

“I am so grateful to Whiston Hospital, Clatterbridge, and the Anthony Nolan organisation, because without them I wouldn’t be here.

“And for Louise to make a day where we’d have been thinking about what might have been into a day that was incredible and special is amazing. We appreciate life and each other more than ever.”

Clatterbridge Consultant in Haemato-Oncology, Dr Tom Seddon said:

“It was such a lovely moment for everyone on the ward. A huge congratulations from myself and the Transplant Team!”

Louise is taking part in the 50K Lake District Challenge to raise money for Anthony Nolan on June 8. Support her here.

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