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Terminally ill woman marries partner of 40 years after QEQM staff in Margate transform hospital room into a wedding venue

A woman diagnosed with terminal cancer was able to marry her partner of 40 years after hospital staff helped organise a wedding in just one day.

Pauline Manning was married for just eight days before she died, but her devastated husband Alan Christie says it was thanks to the teams at Sandwich Bay ward at the QEQM Hospital in Margate, and district nurses, paramedics and staff at the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury, that she was able to realise her dream.

Pauline and Alan tie the knot at the QEQM Hospital in Margate
Pauline and Alan tie the knot at the QEQM Hospital in Margate

The QEQM team transformed a side room on the ward into a wedding venue for the ceremony, covering medical equipment with sheets and hanging fairy lights and balloons.

Pauline, a retired area resource manager, was also given something blue and a silver horseshoe, and her daughter Nina and sister Julie managed to source flowers and a ring in just one morning.

She and Alan had met at a dance in August 1980 and had talked about getting married but never got round to arranging the ceremony.

But after Pauline’s diagnosis the couple, of Sholden, near Deal, decided there was no time like the present.

Alan, a retired insurance broker, says Pauline always wanted a simple ceremony.

Pauline and Alan Manning with their family at the hospital
Pauline and Alan Manning with their family at the hospital

"So that’s what we did," he said.

"While I went to the registry office to do the paperwork, the staff helped get Pauline ready.

"They lent her a silver horseshoe and something blue, brought in non-alcoholic champagne and confetti and helped make it a fantastic day."

Pauline's children Nina and Scott were witnesses, and Julie acted as best man and gave her away.

They were also tasked with making arrangements, with flowers quickly sourced at Merrygardens florist and a ring at CJ Howe jewellers in Deal.

"She and Alan were able to realise their dream of being husband and wife, even if only for the shortest time" - Nina

Scott found a pink tie in the Sue Ryder charity shop.

Alan said: "It was like a wedding supermarket sweep – they dashed around Deal getting everything we needed.

"We had the traditional ceremony and brought in a white chocolate cake as a wedding cake.

"The staff provided more cake, and just made everything lovely. The room was full as they all wanted to come and watch us get married.

"They couldn’t have done anything better, and Pauline’s care was fantastic all the way through."

Pauline Manning with her daughter Nina
Pauline Manning with her daughter Nina

Pauline went home a week after the ceremony but deteriorated that night and was admitted to the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury on Saturday afternoon, passing away in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Nina said: "Once again we had some incredible help from two district nurses at our home who wouldn't leave my mum's side or leave us in despair, and also the ambulance service and Kent fire service who helped transport her from home to the hospice.

"It was an incredibly distressing and difficult time which was made easier by everyone's professionalism and compassion.

"The nurses at the hospice were also amazing, showing great kindness and compassion to my mum and also to us at such a distressing time.

"We are so grateful to everyone involved in looking after mum for their incredible care and dedication, and pleased that she and Alan were able to realise their dream of being husband and wife, even if only for the shortest time."

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