A couple will once more pledge their love when they tie the knot again in a poignant ceremony at the borough’s hospice.
Derek and Joanne Hall will get married again in the Oak Centre at Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) later this month.
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Derek has an inoperable brain tumour and the couple decided to have a big day once again as going to the day service at the hospice has transformed their lives.
Joanne, 47, will walk down the aisle at the Hindley-based charity’s headquarters in the dress she wore on their first big day in 2007 before she and Derek, 48, will once again make their promises to be together.
Joanne said: “We’ve often talked about getting married again but with the journey we’ve been on the last three years it brought home how much we wanted to do it.
“Derek was joking we’d do it in a pub but Jacqui at the Oak Centre suggested we do it there. We looked at each other and thought ‘why not?’ and I’m so glad – I couldn’t think of a better place.
“In my head I was getting married – I never saw it as a vow renewal. I just wanted to give myself to him all over again.”
Derek was diagnosed with the tumour on his brain stem in February 2016 and he started going to the Oak Centre last January, with Joanne accompanying him every week.
The socialising, exercise and physiotherapy has made a huge difference to Derek’s life, which had been blighted by ill health for some time before the devastating diagnosis was finally made.
He said: “I told Joanne I was driving home from having double vision and it just wasn’t right.
“I went to Bolton Eye Hospital and it was there they found it. For about six years before I’d had poor vision, headaches and didn’t know why.”
The couple described their feelings of being left on their own to struggle following the discovery of the tumour and how going to the Oak Centre has changed their lives for the better.
Joanne said: “We had fallen under the radar for support because we looked like we were coping so well.
“We went from being given some shocking news and being in limbo – we didn’t know what to do – we had no support but the Oak Centre has given us the support we need.
“We’ve had so much going on it’s been an emotional rollercoaster the last few years. Being here opened our eyes - the people, the support - I said to my mother-in-law I didn’t know people like that existed.
“Everyone at the Oak Centre is like our family and the centre is like a second home. When I get into the car park it’s like a big hug.
“As soon as the wedding was mentioned everyone said ‘I’ll do this’ and ‘I’ll do that’. It’s like one big happy family.”
Preparations are now in full swing for what promises to be an emotional day for Derek and Joanne on May 20.
The hospice’s kitchen team will create sandwiches, a cake is being bought and decorated by a fellow Oak Centre service user and more of Derek and Joanne’s friends from the day services are stitching bunting to adorn the room.
The shops team at the hospice is sourcing mismatched china cups and saucers for an afternoon tea, which will form the wedding breakfast.
Joanne will hold a bouquet of wild flowers featuring photographs of hers and Derek’s grandparents.
Her father-in-law Derek will give her away while mother-in-law Sheila accompanies her son down the aisle.
The guests will be made up of Joanne’s friends from work, Derek’s parents and friends and volunteers and staff from the Oak Centre.
The couple, from Astley, met at Royal Mail in Farnworth where they ended up sitting opposite each other in the office as Derek worked in customer service and Jo in
sales. They went for a drink at a pub near work and romance blossomed.