Seriously-ill girl leaves Sheffield hospital bed to be bridesmaid for her parents
A seriously-ill 11-year-old girl from South Yorkshire was allowed out of hospital for two hours to make sure her parents had their dream wedding.
Kayleigh Walsh left her bed in Sheffield Children's Hospital to be bridesmaid at the nuptials of her mother and father, Paul and Lyndsey, in Doncaster.
Then the family arrived back on ward six to find it transformed into a reception venue with food, flowers, live music from a string duo and a blessing ceremony from the hospital chaplain.
Mrs Walsh, 35, said she was overwhelmed by the work put in by the nurses and other staff on the haematology and oncology ward.
The hospital and The Children's Hospital Charity involved a host of people with local businesses donating key parts of the day, including the flowers and the car which drove them to the ceremony.
"It was better than I ever could imagine," Mrs Walsh said.
"We were going for the wedding and then a close family meal and that was it. We never anticipated all of this."
She said: "This has made it so much more special. It's been amazing.
"From the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of Paul's, we're both overwhelmed."
Mrs Walsh explained how Kayleigh had 18 months of treatment for a neuroblastoma in her adrenal gland when she was 22 months old and had been in remission for nearly eight years when they got the "heartbreaking" news in June that she had a tumour in her liver.
Mrs Walsh said: "It was heartbreaking, absolutely heart breaking."
Asked about Kayleigh's treatment, she said: "OK so far.
"It's touch-and-go whether it's going to work or not because neuroblastoma is hard to treat the first time around, let alone a second time around.
"But the doctors seems hopeful that everything's going to plan."
The couple, from Mexborough, South Yorkshire, have three other children, Caitlin, 14; Aimee-Leigh, three; and Jackson, 18 months, and they are expecting another child in February next year.
Kayleigh has been in Sheffield Children's Hospital for nearly six weeks with her father by her side constantly as Mrs Walsh has travelled backwards and forwards, looking after the rest of the family.
They said that their first thought when they heard Kayleigh's diagnosis was to cancel the wedding they had been planning since April.
Mrs Walsh said: "Kayleigh asked us to keep it going and the nurses actually suggested keeping it going because it gives Kayleigh something to look forward to, something to focus on, something to enjoy.
She said: "We only found out last week she could actually come out to come with us.
"That was a big surprise. They told us it would be a couple of hours at the most."
Mr Walsh, 32, said "Neither one of us actually thought today would happen with Kayleigh coming to the register office."
He said: "We can't thank everybody enough for what they've done."
His wife said she could not believe it when staff cheered them back on to the ward after the ceremony.
Mrs Walsh said Kayleigh enjoyed the day more than anyone.
"She's loved it. She's smiled every second of it," she said.
"She walked me down the little aisle. That melted my heart, that did."
Mrs Walsh said: "She's absolutely amazing."
The couple have been together for 16 years and met when Mrs Walsh was 19 and Mr Walsh was 17.
Hilary Quinton, the lead nurse for haematology and oncology at the hospital said: "It's been a beautiful, beautiful day.
"Goosebumpy, I think, is the best way of describing it."
She said: "Kayleigh was crucial in the planning and everything has been with her say-so and approval.
"We've involved everyone in the ward team, even and the children."