After being told he had only days left to live, Gavin Parkes, 39, and his partner, Lori, were able to have their dream wedding at Ashgate Hospicecare on Friday 22nd March, with help from the Hospice staff and the generous support of local businesses.
After their amazing day, the couple decided to raise money for the Hospice so that more patients can receive the care they need and fulfil their dying wishes.
Gavin Parkes, 39, was diagnosed with bladder cancer just before Christmas last year, only months after his partner, Lori, gave birth to their son, Fletcher. Earlier this year, they received the devastating news that Gavin had a particularly aggressive form of bladder cancer, very rare in somebody of his age, and that it was incurable.
The couple had planned to get married in the summer, however, Gavin’s condition took a turn for the worse and so he was brought onto the ward at Ashgate Hospicecare for around the clock specialist care. Gavin’s condition continued to deteriorate, and he was told that he might only live another few days.
Whilst on the ward, Lori expressed their wish to get married to one of the Hospice Chaplains, who then rallied the staff to organise Gavin and Lori’s dream wedding in just a day and a half.
Although the wedding left Gavin, the groom, exhausted, he was able to join in for most of it. A few days after the wedding, with the special care and attention of the staff on the ward, Gavin started to feel better. He said, “I was feeling very tired and dazed on the day of the wedding, I could barely stay awake. But it was an amazing day. I feel so fortunate that we were able to have our dream wedding with thanks to the staff and the local businesses that made it a reality in such a short time.
The care at the Hospice has been excellent; I’ve been waited on hand and foot by the staff and volunteers! However, it’s been hard not feeling well enough to spend time with my little boy, Fletcher. When he comes to visit I’m often too tired to play with him. I’m looking forward to going home soon so that we can spend quality time together as a family.”
The wedding was held in the beautiful new sunroom built in the summer of 2018, with thanks to a generous grant from Westfield Health Charitable Trust. The Hospice had support from local businesses who provided goods and services free of charge to make Gavin and Lori’s day extra special. Fresh Ideas provided a bouquet for the bride and button hole for the groom as well as fresh petal confetti. Weddings by Dragonfly provided beautiful decorations for the room. Jade’s Delights donated a beautiful wedding cake, and John Plant of GW Price Ltd provided prosecco and orange juice for the guests.
Cottam Carriages transported the bride to the Hospice in a vintage, classic car, whilst RW Photography filmed their wedding video and DC Live Photography took professional photos to help the couple create lasting memories of their special day. Sarah and Hannah from The Makeup Studio did Lori’s makeup and Hair by Olivia James styled the bride’s, the mother of the bride and a friend’s hair for the big day. The Ashgate Hospicecare shop at Clay Cross steamed the bride’s dress and groom’s suit and a wedding buffet was quickly put together by the kitchen staff at the Hospice for all the guests to enjoy.
Lori, the bride, said, “The wedding was incredible and we had an absolutely amazing day. Everything that the businesses donated was exactly what I would have chosen for our wedding. Having it in the new sunroom meant that we felt a million miles away from a clinical environment. It was simply beautiful and we will all cherish our memories from that day.
"The Hospice have helped us so much, not just with the wedding, but with Gavin’s care both on the ward and at home. All we want is for more people to be able to receive such a high level of care when they need it. I’ve started a JustGiving page to raise funds for the Hospice and my target is to raise enough money for another patient to have their dream wedding.”
To donate to Gavin and Lori’s JustGiving page and raise money for Ashgate Hospicecare, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lori-gregory1.
Gavin Parkes sadly died at Ashgate Hospicecare on the evening of 4th April 2019. All the staff and volunteers at the Hospice are sending their sympathies to Lori and Gavin’s family at this sad time.