As he celebrates his marriage to partner Ruth Ward, Simon Mann likes to describe himself as a ‘one- man Four Weddings and a Funeral’.
For the 59-year-old guitar tutor from Crookes and his charity worker bride are enjoying a string of celebrations to mark their special day – ever since doctors told him he had only hours to live.
The wedding drama began on May 17 when Simon, then a patient at Weston Park Hospital, underwent an informal exchange of vows with 61-year-old Ruth after experts warned time was short.
The couple had met online more than two years ago and when Simon was first diagnosed with lung cancer, he says he gave Ruth, who is from Matlock in Derbyshire, the opportunity to end the relationship.
“She’s an amazing woman,” said Simon. “I gave her the chance to go and she didn’t take it – she has been with me all the way.”
Following the first informal ceremony, Simon was transferred to St Luke’s Hospice where the couple began to make plans for a September wedding.
But when Simon’s health dipped again, Ruth rushed to Sheffield Register Office, filled in the paperwork and found a registrar who, with the support of hospice chaplain Mike Reeder, was available to pull out all the stops and perform a full wedding ceremony in Simon’s room at the hospice.
With just a few members of family able to attend the ceremony at such short notice, the happy couple are now having two special celebrations at the hospice, the first for family and the second for friends and colleagues.
“It’s been a strange time but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Ruth.
“St Luke’s have been absolutely fantastic – it’s been like being in some kind of heaven and nothing has been too much trouble for them.”
Simon added: “It really has been like I’m a ‘one-man Four Weddings and a Funeral!’”