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Watchfield couple renew vows
A WATCHFIELD man suffering from cancer and his beloved wife have renewed their marriage vows – nearly half a century after they became teenage sweethearts.
Don Steward, 64, and wife, Jen, 62, met 46 years ago and have been married for 43 years.
A year ago, Don was diagnosed with lung cancer, and despite months of treatment, including several rounds of chemotherapy, he was told it was incurable.
Faced with this stark news, Don decided to do something he had always meant to do – renew his vows with Jen.
Weston Hospicecare, which Don has attended for the past seven months, helped to make the day a special occasion.
The service was held in the hospice chapel and was attended by patients and staff who Don has become close friends with.
Don said: “The chapel was decorated with flowers, arranged by a hospice volunteer, in colours that reflected those from our wedding day all those years ago.
Hospice staff put up some personalised bunting for us and Peter, the chef, arranged a buffet as well as a gorgeous cake.
“We had plenty of photos taken to remember the day and there was plenty of bubbly to go around!”
Don said he had been “ecstatic” when he was told the hospice could host the ceremony, but Jen was initially not so sure.
She said: “It felt bitter sweet to me. I didn’t want to think about our marriage blessing in the context of the hospice, and how our lives are linked to it.
“After discussing it with Don, I soon came to see how wonderful the idea was.
“Everyone there has become very dear to Don and myself since he started coming here in February. They were so excited once Don told them about the ceremony and I made some invites to hand out to everyone the week before. To top it all off, a vintage Beauford car whisked us off for a stay at the Beachlands Hotel!”
Weston Hospicecare secured funding to pay for their hotel stay, and chaplain Karen Murphy said: “Don and Jen are such a fabulous couple that being able to help them with this has been an honour.
“Their life is packed full of wonderful stories and heart warming moments.”