When John Ling became a patient of Martlets in January 2016, the last thing he and his partner Richi Blennerhassett were thinking about was getting married.  Richi takes up the story:

 “John’s cancer had been getting steadily worse and he took the decision to go into Martlets; quite simply he didn’t want me or his daughter to have to deal with his passing at home.  

It felt strange. Not just for it marking the beginning of the end but for so long I’d looked after John’s day to day needs and now someone else was going to be cooking his meals. 

What I didn’t realise that this would give me the chance to just be with John.  I could appreciate every moment with him.  

John told me that the hospice chaplain had mentioned that we could get married if we wanted. I said ‘That would be great’ knowing this was us making plans that may not happen.   

The next day John greeted me with the news that we could get married two days later, on the Friday. We told John’s daughter, Amy, and got as many friends and family together as was possible at such short notice. 

The chaplain and our social worker guided me through the process and made appointments for me at the registry office. Thursday was spent getting legal paperwork together, visiting the registrar, ordering buttonholes and finding wedding rings. 

Friday came and I spent the morning with John getting ready. Holding his hand and keeping him calm, not showing my own nerves and cherishing every moment with this wonderful man.  

The staff lined the halls as we moved into the Sanctuary where the service would take place. A choir leader sang Fields of Gold by Ava Cassidy. I can’t actually remember the words but I remember crying and feeling so proud to call this man my husband. 

That night, the hospice staff moved an extra bed into John’s room so that we could spend our wedding night lying together. I’d really missed lying next to him so this was extra special. It was just one of those little things that Martlets did. 

I feel so thankful that Martlets exists. Not just for those whose lives are ending, or those that need some respite, but for those left behind. Husbands, wives, partners, sons, daughters, and caregivers who get to spend those last precious moments just holding the people we love. 

Thankyou.”