Tribute has been paid to the generosity of people across the Fylde coast after a devoted couple were married in a ceremony at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Vivien Stokes, 56, a patient on Ward 24, was due to marry her long-time partner Fred Hartley, 73, in June this year, but forced a change of mind and Vivien wanted to bring the wedding forward after being admitted to the Viv with aspiration pneumonia.
As soon as staff on the ward knew of Vivien’s wishes they put out an appeal on social media to ask people in the community if they could help make the day as special as possible – and they were inundated with replies with offers of wedding dresses, flowers, cakes and decorations.
Claire Kelly, ward clerk on Ward 24, said: “A few of us put out social media messages in various forms and staff shared those messages and the response was phenomenal.
“We were amazed by the support and the kind messages we received. It was lovely.
“Staff decorated the ward and the room where the ceremony was held and the hospital put on some food and refreshments and it was great to see everyone come together.’’
Joanne Connearn, Vivien’s niece, said: “The response was absolutely amazing.
“We were inundated with offers of support and we are so overwhelmed by the generosity of people.
“In the end Vivien had five wedding dresses to choose from.
“We can’t thank people or the staff at the hospital enough.
“They have all been absolutely wonderful and have helped make their day special.”
The ceremony was conducted by Blackpool registration manager Dawn Titherington and senior registration officer Marila Hargreaves.
Vivien and Fred, who both have cerebral palsy, met at a day centre in Burnley 29 years ago and have lived in Fleetwood since 1995.
Joanne added: “They are a really well known couple in Fleetwood.
“Vivien has been keen on them getting married for some time but Fred always resisted - up until last summer, when we were all were on a Meditrerranean cruise and Fred told me he was going to ask Vivien to marry him.
“Of course she said yes and the date in summer was set.
“They are always out and about, really enjoy socialising and are really popular.
“It has been so great to see everyone come together to make their day a special one.”