Terminally-ill woman weds in ‘fairytale’ style

The wedding at St James's Hospital, Leeds, of Marie Upton and Alex Templeman.
The wedding at St James's Hospital, Leeds, of Marie Upton and Alex Templeman.
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A TERMINALLY-ill woman married her long-term partner in a “fairytale” wedding on a hospital ward in Yorkshire.

Marie Upton, who has a chronic lung condition, was married to Alex Templeman after the ward sister arranged the ceremony at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, in less than 24 hours.

Mrs Templeman, 59, is in the final stages of her illness and the couple were determined to marry after having to postpone the big day several times before.

Mr Templeman, a cancer patient himself, said: “It was a fairytale come true. It was out of this world.

“There was nothing sad about it at all. The happiness has overcome the sadness.”

The couple, from Gipton, Leeds, have been together for 25 years and have four children each from previous relationships.

Mr Templeman said his wife had nursed him through seven heart attacks 20 years ago.

“She’s fantastic. She used to be so fit. She never got a bus and used to walk to do the shopping,” he said.

However nine years ago Mrs Templeman was diagnosed with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“She has been in and out of hospital for the past five years, but she’s been there more than at home,” Mr Templeman said.

Her condition has been deteriorating and medics have told Mr Templeman her illness is in its final stages.

“They think she might not be here for Christmas,” he said.

“I’ve been the person holding it together for her family and my own family, but it’s horrendous.”

In a further blow for the couple, 61-year-old Mr Templeman was diagnosed in August with cancer in his throat, mouth and liver.

He has been undergoing treatment which suppresses his immune system so for some time could not see his partner in hospital for fear of picking up infections.

He still cannot go onto the main ward without protecting his face with a mask, but Mrs Templeman is now being cared for in a side room on ward 12.

Senior sister Michaela Land has nursed her for five years and seeing how seriously ill she was, and knowing how much the couple wanted to marry, offered to arrange the wedding.

Within 24 hours a registrar had been booked, hospital chaplain the Rev Adam Clayton was on hand and Mrs Templeman’s wedding dress – which she had bought in the hope of getting married previously – was delivered.

Mr Templeman and his sister Liz made a mad dash to sort out paperwork and buy the rings, while the bride’s hair, make-up and nails was done on the ward thanks to staff from the Macmillan Robert Ogden Centre at the hospital.

Decorations were put up by the ward sister and medics bought a cake and iced it themselves.

Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff joined the couple and Mr Templeman’s sister for the emotional ceremony and blessing by Mr Clayton, with Sister Land one of the witnesses.

“It was so gorgeous,” the groom, who did not have time to buy a suit,” said Mr Templeman.

“In the morning Marie was a bit poorly but when she realised she was getting married, it gave her a big lift.

“It meant so much – it was brilliant.”

Mr Templeman is now hoping to arrange another celebration on the ward for some of the couple’s family, which includes 37 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He added that Sister Land had done a fantastic job and thanked all the staff.

The sister said she was determined to make the couple’s dream come true.

“It was very emotional. Every member of staff was crying as it was so nice to see them exchanging their vows,” she said.

“I was just glad to be able to do it for them.

“With them both being ill, it was even more touching. It wasn’t just for Marie, it was both of them.”