Sheffield woman, 31, battling terminal cancer gets dream wedding as St Luke's Hospice staff pull out all stops

A Christmas wish has finally come true for a Sheffield bride battling terminal cancer, with St Luke’s hospice staff and local businesses rallying round to make her dream wedding a reality.
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Dave Stewart proposed to Jess Richards, 31, on Christmas Day 2020- though the couple had no idea how they would make a wedding work in a pandemic.

Hospitality worker Jess is also battling against cancer and is now a patient at St Luke’s, where the team pulled out ‘all the stops’ to ensure that the ceremony could go ahead.

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“Christmas is Jess’s favourite time of the year so this year her Christmas present was an engagement ring and I actually proposed on Christmas Day,” said 33-year-old Dave, who is a lecturer at Hillsborough College.

Jess and Dave finally tied the knot!Jess and Dave finally tied the knot!
Jess and Dave finally tied the knot!

Jess had first become aware of a health issue when the couple were spending a year travelling in Australia and New Zealand in 2017.

But it was only when the couple arrived back home that Jess was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a full programme of surgery and chemotherapy treatment.

“It was really when we got the diagnosis that the cancer had returned that we said, let’s get married,” added Dave.

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The St Luke’s chaplaincy team had to apply to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Facility Office for a special licence for the ceremony to go ahead in the hospice’s Garden Room.

Flowers for the big day were provided by city florist Valerie of Dore, balloons were donated by Above and Beyond Balloons and, at the bride’s request, the hospice catering team created a special celebration cheese cake.

Then, with just Jess’s parents, Dave’s mum, his best man brother Jamie and Jess’s bridesmaid friend Heather Eggleton in attendance in line with the current COVID-19 lcokdown regulations, St Luke’s assistant chaplain Mark Newitt conducted the ceremony.

“It’s something that Jess has always wanted and it has been the one ray of light since we received the diagnosis,” Dave said.

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“It might not be the wedding we originally thought we would be having but we can’t thank everybody enough for making this day happen for us.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.