Published: 18:48, 18 January 2021
| Updated: 20:11, 18 January 2021
An Army veteran told by doctors he doesn't have long to live has fulfilled his dying wish to renew his wedding vows with his beloved wife.
Couple Graham and Carol Budgen celebrated their enduring love during a ceremony this afternoon at Herne Bay care home Broomfield Lodge, where the former armed serviceman lives.
The devoted pair, who tied the knot 34 years ago, exchanged vows in front a handful of carers and a celebrant during the intimate event.
They had been talking about holding the ceremony for a number of years, but decided to go ahead with it last week after Carol, 78, was told her husband’s dementia had worsened.
Speaking before the ceremony, she said: “He has been pronounced end of life. He’s not got long left.
“We’ve both had a very, very happy second marriage and he’s such a lovely man.
“I just feel that I want to show him how much I love him.”
Graham, 82, wore a suit and cravat during the ceremony, while Carol wore a white dress - all of which was donated by Belles Brides Bridal Studio.
Graham, who suffers from Lewy bodies dementia, first moved into the Hunters Forstal Road care home in March, shortly before the first lockdown.
He had spent almost four decades in the Army, rising to the highest non-commissioned officer rank in the service.
“We’d talked about renewing our vows for some time, even before he was diagnosed three years ago,” former receptionist Carol added.
“We were going to do it at certain times, but other things took its place.”
Under lockdown rules, weddings and civil ceremonies can only take place in exceptional circumstances – such as where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover – with up to six people in attendance.
The romantic rite was organised in just two hours by Broomfield Lodge head of care Fran Lawrence on Friday.
After appealing for help on Facebook, she was inundated with messages from local businesses willing to donate cakes, bunting and decorations for free.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with what they’ve done,” Carol, from Beltinge, continued.
“One day I was saying to Graham ‘we must renew our vows’ and I suppose it was overheard. Graham’s gone downhill very quickly, and Fran picked it up.
“They’re such good girls here – they’re fantastic.”