Hospital throws a party for newlywed parents

Cancer patient Kayleigh Walsh with her parents Lyndsey and Paul Walsh, following their wedding blessing ceremony at Sheffield Children's Hospital.
Cancer patient Kayleigh Walsh with her parents Lyndsey and Paul Walsh, following their wedding blessing ceremony at Sheffield Children's Hospital.
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IT was not the wedding for which they would have wished. But neither would they have missed it for the world.

In her floral bridesmaid’s headdress, a blue ribbon tied around the handle of her wheelchair, 11-year-old Kayleigh Walsh watched as her parents, Paul and Lyndsey, tied the knot.

She had been allowed out of bed at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for just long enough to get to Doncaster register office. Two hours later, she was back – her ward transformed with flowers, food, a string duo playing music and the hospital chaplain delivering a blessing.

Her parents, who have been together for 26 years, had been planning the day since April and had considered postponing it.

But, said the new Mrs Walsh: “Kayleigh asked us to keep it going and the nurses actually suggested keeping it going because it gave her something to look forward to, something to focus on, something to enjoy.”

The little girl had undergone 18 months of treatment for a neuroblastoma in her adrenal gland when she was a toddler, and had been in remission for nearly eight years until last June, when her family was given the news that she had a tumour in her liver.

“It was heartbreaking, absolutely heart breaking,” Mrs Walsh said.

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 seem hopeful that everything’s going to plan.”

Kayleigh has been in hospital for nearly six weeks with her father by her side constantly, and her mother travelling between the ward and the family home in Mexborough, to look after their three other children, Caitlin, 14, three-year-old Aimee-Leigh, and 18-month-old Jackson. They are expecting another child in February.

Mrs Walsh, 35, said she had been overwhelmed by the work put in by nurses and other staff to surprise her with yesterday’s reception, and could not believe it when they cheered the family back on to the ward.

“It was better than I ever could imagine,” she said.

“We were going for the wedding and then a close family meal and that was it. We never anticipated all of this.

“From the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of Paul’s, we’re both overwhelmed.”

She said Kayleigh had 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.”

Mr Walsh, 32, added: “Neither one of us actually thought today would happen with Kayleigh coming to the register office.

“We can’t thank everybody enough for what they’ve done.”

Hilary Quinton, the hospital’s lead nurse for haematology and oncology, said: “It’s been a beautiful, beautiful day.

“Goosebumpy, I think, is the best way of describing it.”

She added: “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 the children.”