Local hospice makes dreams come true

A dad and his daughter have had their wish of walking down the aisle together turned into reality thanks to Havens Hospices.

Richard Bailey, 70, from Canvey Island, was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal oesophageal cancer last year. After his daughter Emma, 35, got engaged to her fiancé Chris, there were two defining ‘picture perfect’ moments she was looking forward to. These were when her dad sees her in her dress for the first time, and then him walking her down the aisle to her husband-to-be.

Following Richard’s diagnosis, they soon realised that day wouldn’t come, so they planned to visit a bridal shop so he could still be a part of the wedding and help choose his daughter’s dress.

Unfortunately, Richard’s condition deteriorated. He was in pain and needed oxygen more often, so he was admitted to his local hospice, Fair Havens in Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea, to help control his pain and symptoms.

Last week, when Emma was visiting and talking to the nurses about the original wedding plans, the nurses suggested that if Richard couldn’t get to the bridal shop, then why not bring the bridal shop to Fair Havens?

Emma’s best friend and bridesmaid, Grace, then helped to put the plan into action and contacted Chantilly Lace in Westcliff-on-Sea. Owner Clorese and sister Hayley were more than happy to help and brought four ivory dresses to Fair Havens, along with the finishing touches of a tiara and veil.

Emma and Grace used one of the family bedrooms to get ready, with Chantilly Lace helping to fit the dresses and shape the trail as she walked through the In Patient Unit to Richard’s room. Emma’s brother, Simon, was also there to capture the special moment when Richard saw his daughter as a bride for the first time on film.

Speaking of the moment his daughter came into the room, Richard says, “It was a complete surprise, I had no idea it was going to happen. I wondered why the Care Team were insistent on me having a shave!

“Because of Fair Havens, I’ve been able to be a part of the wedding that was most important to Emma and me. We came together for that moment. Although it’s not the real thing, it is to us. We’ve done it together. Her brother, Simon, will now take over that responsibility when the big day finally arrives.”

On the day, Richard felt well enough to get out of bed, hold Emma’s arm and walk up and down the hospice’s corridor like it was an aisle, with the Care Team lining the corridor to see the special moment.

Emma says, “We had the most magical day. Everyone went to so much effort, it made me feel like I was actually getting married.

“It’s lovely to know that Dad has now seen me in a wedding dress and walked me down the aisle, albeit the hospice corridor. Just to have walked anywhere, wearing a wedding dress with Dad on my arm, has been an honour. It’s a moment I didn’t think we’d get to share together.

“This moment, which will last a lifetime, wouldn’t have happened without the donations that people make to the charity. We’re extremely grateful for what they’re doing for families like ours.”

Fair Havens provides palliative and supportive care to adults in Southend, Castle Point and Rochford diagnosed with a complex or incurable condition, as well as offering invaluable support to the patient’s families.

The hospice doesn’t have rules and restrictions like a hospital, meaning families can visit whenever they like. The care it provides is completely free of charge and can only continue to make dreams come true thanks to the generosity of kind donations.

Find out more about the care Fair Havens can offer.

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Richard Bailey with Emily Bailey in a wedding dress standing with four members of the Fair Havens Care Team