'Fairytale' wedding for couple after terminal cancer diagnosis
PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:16 17 May 2018
A couple enjoyed a dream wedding, thanks to people across Weston who helped to organise the occasion at short notice after the bride-to-be was admitted to Weston Hospicecare with inoperable cancer.
Claire Rutter and Rob Cope exchanged vows in front of dozens of family and friends at an emotional ceremony at Batch Country Hotel in Lympsham on May 9.
The couple have been together for nine years, and had enjoyed a running joke about which of them should propose to the other – but the decision was effectively taken out of their hands when Claire was diagnosed with cancer and admitted to the hospice’s inpatient unit in Uphill three weeks ago.
Mum-of-three Claire, aged 37, said: “I have always wanted to get married, but am a bit of a traditionalist and wanted Rob to ask me – but every time a leap year came around he would joke that I could ask him if I wanted.
“In the end, we were sitting in the hospice garden, and I realised the one thing I really wanted to do was get married.”
Claire and 39-year-old Rob feared her hopes of a ‘fairytale wedding’ would be impossible – but their family, friends and a number of Weston charities and businesses stepped in to help.
Claire’s mum Katrina, brother Dave-Lee and sisters Trudy and Donna all played big roles in putting the wedding together, while friends contributed money and specialist skills.
The happy couple say they have been overwhelmed by the ‘unbelievable generosity’ from their loved ones and members of the community.
Claire said: “It was amazing, even better than we could ever have wished for. We really wanted it to be a magical day and people really came together – it’s hard for me to put into words how grateful we are.
“I don’t think we could have done it any better if we’d had 18 months to plan it, like people usually do.”
And Rob added: “We were really amazed at how well it all came together.
“We were so happy with it all – it was overwhelming really.”
Donations came in from the community, including The Axentis Michael Memorial Trust which gave the couple £1,500 towards their big day, while Batch Hotel also waived some costs and discounted other services.
Bridal boutique White Lace & Promises offered a deal on Claire’s dress, while So Gorgeous did similar for the bridesmaids and groom and the hospice’s Short Break Fund paid for their wedding night hotel stay.
Town centre jeweller F Hinds gave them a discount on rings, after Rob went down on one knee in the store when they picked out Claire’s engagement ring.
The couple’s daughters Katie, aged 14, two-year-old Florence, and 18-month-old Lettie-Mae were bridesmaids.
Claire and Rob, who live in Burnham-on-Sea, are making memory boxes for the girls which will include letters from Claire to be opened on landmark occasions like milestone birthdays and wedding days, and other keepsakes too.
Claire knows it ‘will be hard’ but insists it is something she wants to do in the wake of her diagnosis, which includes tumours on many of her bones and cancer now in her liver and brain lining.
Claire said: “I’m a very positive person. A lot of people have been shocked by how well I’ve taken it. But there’s no point in me being angry with the illness – that will only take up the energy I need to fight.
“It’s about quality of life, not quantity. I just want my family and my girls to see I have done my very best and I am not going to give up.”
Claire has returned to the hospice since the wedding, and was keen to highlight the support she has received.
She said: “It’s been fantastic here – absolutely amazing. I feel safe here, and can’t fault anything.
“Before I came here, I could feel my body going – but here, that has stopped.
“You know when your time is coming, and I don’t feel that any more. I have been able to relax.
“I don’t think enough people know about this place – it needs all the support it can get.”
Weston Hospicecare’s inpatient unit manager Jill Nash says the charity’s staff have been touched by Claire’s positivity.
Jill said: “Everyone has been delighted to have been able to help facilitate such a special day for Claire and Rob.
“We have supported them to ensure they had what they needed, so everything ran smoothly for them.
“Claire and Rob are a lovely couple who have touched us all. It has been a privilege and joy to share this with them, in a small way.
“Their calmness, warmth and positivity has been inspiring.”