David Willie and Olivia Meheux, who live together locally in Burgess Hill, married at St Peter & St James Hospice last Thursday in a full-scale wedding that had been organised in just ten days.
David was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in June 2016. Despite intensive treatment and multiple operations, David’s cancer spread, and in January, the couple received the devastating news that there are no more treatment options available. The couple, who have been together for six years having met on a night out, had planned to marry in April, but decided to bring their wedding forward following David’s deterioration and admission to the hospice at the beginning of March.
‘We got engaged in January and were always aiming for a short turnaround as we know our time together is limited,’ Olivia said. ‘The charity Gift of a Wedding, who provide free weddings to terminally ill adults, knew of our story and had kindly already agreed to help us and I’d heard through my mum, who is a bank nurse at the hospice, that St Peter & St James had hosted weddings previously – though perhaps not quite on the scale we were hoping for! After being at the hospice for a few days I thought I’d ask whether it could be used as a venue. We both desperately wanted to get married and it made sense to do it in a safe place where David would only ever be 50ft from the expert care of doctors and nurses, and while he still had the quality of life to really enjoy the day.’
Hospice staff were delighted to be involved and fulfil the couple’s wish and joined forces with Gift of a Wedding to organise a day in their Beacon View Wellbeing Centre and conservatory that the couple and guests alike described as ‘stunning’ and ‘magical’.
Olivia and David were inundated with offers of help from generous companies and local hospice supporters who donated their supplies and services: providing a DJ, canapés, fizz, a buffet, beautiful decorations, a photobooth and cake to the young couple for free, who danced into the night with 58 guests. Hospice staff and volunteers rallied together to ensure everything ran smoothly and the whole event was carefully co-ordinated to minimise disruption to other patients and their families.
‘It was important to us both that it felt as normal as possible,’ David said. ‘I had huge faith in Liv and the hospice but still couldn’t quite believe how it turned out. I can’t thank everyone enough. You wouldn’t for a second have thought we were in a hospice – it felt like we were in a proper wedding venue! Liv is intelligent and compassionate and fearless; I feel incredibly lucky to have married her. We both had so much fun; it was one of the best days of my life.’
‘It was just filled with so much love and happiness,’ Olivia added. ‘Thankfully, David has improved since being at the hospice and may be discharged for a while, but the fact is that he is terminally ill. To be able to have had such an amazing wedding and share the day with our families and friends means so much. I’m so proud to be able to call David my husband.’