The Cumberland Infirmary heard the sound of wedding bells on Saturday 18 June when a patient, unable to be discharged to attend his wedding, had his big day moved to the hospital.
Paul McGuirk (57) from Workington, had planned to marry his partner of 13 years, Jackie Fryer (55), at Cockermouth Registry Office on Saturday but plans were thwarted when Paul was admitted to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary and was not well enough to be discharged in time for the wedding.
The couple have been engaged for four years and hadn’t got round to planning their wedding yet but when Paul was diagnosed with stomach cancer in January 2016, they decided to book the ceremony. Since his diagnosis, Paul received the devastating news that his cancer is not curable and he has been undergoing chemotherapy to prolong his life as much as possible.
Despite the setback last week, Paul’s partner Jackie (who is a senior nurse at West Cumberland Hospital) managed to rearrange the wedding with the registrar and the help of staff at the Infirmary. The registrar agreed to come to Carlisle and the couple were married in the Quiet room in the hospital which had been decorated by members of staff. Jackie’s three children and two year-old grandson also attended the ceremony.
Jackie said: “We have been together a long time and hadn’t quite got round to getting married. When we discovered that Paul’s cancer is incurable, we booked the wedding which was planned to be a quiet day with close family.
“Paul didn’t have any symptoms prior to his diagnosis and he has always kept very fit and never smoked so it came as a big shock to us all. We are now taking each day as it comes and we were absolutely delighted at the lengths staff at the Cumberland Infirmary went to in order to make our wedding day special. Helen Roe (consultant cancer nurse) and Beverley Wilkinson (research practitioner) came in on their days off to decorate the room and Steph Colquitt (ward manager), also came in on her day off and made sure there were bottles of fizz for the wedding party! Our lovely cake was made by Tricia Nicholls (research practitioner).
“We received flowers from the ward and from Paul’s consultant Dr Nicoll and his wife which was so thoughtful, we are very grateful for all they have done. Paul was discharged on Monday and we are hoping we can plan a belated party with family and friends in the near future.”
Steph, who is the ward manager on Beech B ward where Paul has been staying, was a student nurse 20 years ago working with Jackie in the Outpatients department where Jackie is still Sister. Steph was delighted to be able to help ensure the wedding ran smoothly. She said: “We knew how disappointed both Paul and Jackie were at the thought of cancelling their wedding on Saturday so we were all delighted to be able to help make the day happen. There was a real buzz on the ward as staff got the groom ready for his big day.”
Jackie was keen to add how fantastic Paul’s treatment has been at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital. She said: “Although I am a member of staff with the Trust, I know I am also speaking for Paul and our family when I say how impressed we have been with the care Paul has had.
“From the Henderson Suite and Endoscopy at West Cumberland Hospital to Endoscopy, Oncology and Beech B ward at the Cumberland Infirmary including Mr John Wayman in surgery and Dr Jonathan Nicoll in oncology, the care has been truly excellent. I would also like to thank Kate Gilsenan who was on duty when Paul was first admitted, she was lovely and very calming.
“We are so grateful for the support of our family including my daughter Grace Fryer who also works at the Cumberland Infirmary and has been fantastic throughout. The care from the staff at both hospitals offers us some comfort during the difficult times and who knew they could turn their hand to being wedding planners too! My colleagues in outpatients at West Cumberland Hospital have also shown me so much love and support over the past few months, it makes me proud to have been a member of staff for the past 38 years.”