A COUPLE'S fairytale wedding has inspired a charity to launch a new fund to help patients make their last minute dreams come true.

Claire Rutter was a patient at Weston Hospicecare when she proposed to her partner, Rob Cope, in May last year.

The 37 year-old from Burnham-on-Sea had always dreamed of a fairytale wedding but feared it would be impossible after she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

However, thanks to the support of family, friends, local businesses and the hospice Claire and Rob were able to celebrate their big day in style.

Now Weston Hospicecare said it is launching The Jill Dando Fund to help make dreams come true for other patients.

The fund, which has been named in memory of the charity's former patron, is supported by Jill's brother Nigel Dando, Claire's mother, Katrina, and her celebrity friends including Lord Archer and Sir Cliff Richard.

Katrina said: “This fund is for people like Claire. She really wanted this fairytale wedding; it was everything to her. It was all she ever wanted, from when she was a little girl, to have a princess wedding.

“At first I thought it wouldn’t be possible, just because it had to be done really quickly. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get the money together, but everybody helped, we had a lot of support from the hospice, and about a week in, I then thought yes, we can do this.

“With help from businesses, friends and family, we were able to give her the wedding she always wanted. It was very, very emotional, but at the same time it was such a lovely day. To have so many family and friends there, the sun shone on her too, and it was a beautiful day. Her family will have those memories forever.

“It was about giving Claire what she wanted and that’s what this fund can do for other people.”

Sir Cliff Richard has also backed the appeal, as a long-term friend of Jill's.

Before she died, Jill and the Mercury's then-editor Judi Driscoll - the hospice's current chair of trustees - had agreed to jointly launch the consultant appeal.

He performed at a star-studded fundraiser in Weston in 2000 in Jill's memory, which raised £65,000 to fund a consultant for the hospice.

Sir Cliff Richard said: “I enjoyed coming to Weston-super-Mare and helping the hospice raise the funds to achieve Jill’s desire to provide the hospice with its own palliative care consultant.

“It’s now 20 years on – and I believe the hospice is celebrating its 30th birthday – so it is a great idea to launch a Jill Dando Fund for this purpose.

“Jill was a caring, compassionate person and it will be good for her spirit to live on at the hospice in this way.”

Nigel Dando immediately agreed the fund could be named after Jill and said his sister was 'extremely dedicated' to the hospice.

He said: “Jill had always been interested in the work of the hospice and supported it and promoted it in any way she could; having been born in Weston, she realised the work it was doing.

“I think she would have been delighted that such a heartwarming appeal should bear her name in this way.

“The fund is a brilliant idea and one that I’m sure will be supported by well-wishers from Weston and beyond.

“It’s been set up to meet the unseen needs of people and families who are relying on the hospice. If this fund can make some dreams and wishes come true, that is fantastic.”