Stepping Hill Hospital doubles as a wedding venue for cancer patient and his bride

Alfred Hulstone and Val Heelam

A medical ward became a setting for a wedding as a cancer patient married his partner at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

Alfred Hulstone, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, had planned months earlier to marry his long-term partner Val Heelam at Stockport Register Office.

A sudden and unexpected deterioration in Alfred’s condition meant he had to be admitted to hospital the day before, throwing the plans into disarray.

Rather than delay the date, the family took the register office and wedding guests to the ward.

Ward staff and MacMillan nurses helped the family make the rushed arrangements, including buying with flowers from a local shop.

The registrars married Alfred and Val before close family, friends and staff with a blessing from the hospital chaplain.

Alfred and Val, both 72 from Bramhall, have been together 24 years.

Alfred is a retired engineer, and Val worked at the NatWest bank in Stockport.

The couple, who have both been married once before, first met at the bank when he was a customer and she was behind the counter.

A planned honeymoon in the Lake District had to be cancelled, but the couple are making the precious time they have together count with Val spending time by Alfred’s ward bed.

Staff nurse Lindsay O’Shaughnessy said: “Our ward may not be every bride’s dream wedding place but it was a joy to help get the wedding together for Alfred and Val.

“It was a beautiful occasion many of us were quite tearful on the ward.”

Val adde: “I first asked Alfred to marry me 20 years ago and we’ve finally got around to it! It was a long romance, but a whirlwind wedding.

“We’d like to thank the ward staff who were so incredibly helpful in helping us get our special and important day together at such short notice.”