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'Thank you for making mum's wedding dreams come true'

Pauline Manning and Alan Christie at their wedding with ward staff
The couple share their first kiss at their wedding on Sandwich Bay ward

Published on 25 November 2019

A woman diagnosed with terminal cancer was able to marry her partner of 40 years after hospital staff helped organise a wedding in a day.

Pauline Manning was married for just eight days before she died, and her devastated husband Alan Christie and family now want to thank the teams at Sandwich Bay ward at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, as well as district nurses, paramedics and staff at the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury.

The QEQM team transformed a side room on the ward into a wedding venue for the ceremony last Friday, covering medical equipment with sheets and hanging fairy lights and balloons.

Pauline, a retired area resource manager, and Alan had met at a dance in August 1980 and had often talked about getting married but never got round to arranging the ceremony.

But after Pauline’s diagnosis the couple, of Sholden, near Deal, decided there was no time like the present.

Alan, a retired insurance broker, said: “Pauline always wanted a simple ceremony so that’s what we did. While I went to the registry office to do the paperwork, the staff helped get Pauline ready.

“They lent her a silver horseshoe and something blue, brought in non-alcoholic champagne and confetti and helped make it a fantastic day.”

Pauline’s children Nina and Scott were witnesses, and Pauline’s sister Julie acted as best man and gave her away. They were also tasked with making arrangements, and Nina and Julie managed to source flowers and a ring in a morning thanks to Merrygardens florist and CJ Howe jewellers in Deal.

Scott found a pink tie in the town’s Sue Ryder charity shop, after having no luck in other shops.

Alan said: “It was like a wedding supermarket sweep – they dashed around Deal getting everything we needed.

“We had the traditional ceremony and brought in a white chocolate cake as a wedding cake.

“The staff provided more cake, and just made everything lovely. The room was full as they all wanted to come and watch us get married. They couldn’t have done anything better, and Pauline’s care was fantastic all the way through.”

Pauline was allowed to go home a week after the ceremony but deteriorated that night and was admitted to the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury on Saturday afternoon. She died in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Her daughter Nina said: “Once again we had some incredible help from two district nurses at our home who wouldn't leave my mum's side or leave us in despair, and also the ambulance service and Kent fire service who helped transport her from home to the hospice.

“It was an incredibly distressing and difficult time which was made easier by everyone's professionalism and compassion.

“The nurses at the hospice were also amazing, showing great kindness and compassion to my mum and also to us at such a distressing time.

“We are so grateful to everyone involved in looking after mum for their incredible care and dedication, and pleased that she and Alan were able to realise their dream of being husband and wife, even if only for the shortest time.”

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