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Couple renew wedding vows

A couple from Newcastle will be renewing their vows to celebrate their love at the Hospice this week

David Steele, 53, and Stephen Downham, 64, from Wallsend, Newcastle will be renewing their vows in St Oswald’s Day Lounge, surrounded by family and friends on Sunday 13th October, during national Hospice Care Week (7th-13th October).

David, who has terminal prostate cancer, has been staying on our Adult Inpatient Unit for four weeks. Talking about how a nurse suggested that the couple renew their vows, David said:

“I was talking to one of the nurses at the Hospice about how I was feeling a bit down and she was trying to cheer me up. She suggested that Stephen and I renew our civil partner vows, and I thought it was a really nice idea to celebrate our relationship and love. It was a whirlwind decision but we now have a guest list and all our family and friends are coming from all over the country.

“Even though we have planned renewing our vows so quickly everyone can make it, it’s like it’s meant to be. Although we are celebrating our love, it’s also a less painful way of saying goodbye to family and friends. We had a quiet civil ceremony, but this time we are inviting lots of friends and family. I’m very excited and all I want is an easy and stress free day. ”

St Oswald’s Spiritual Care Lead, Davina Radford, will be blessing the couple, who have been together almost 30 years, and married for 13 years. Stephen added:

“Everyone at St Oswald’s is helping us to plan the wedding – Davina, the nurses, catering staff, and many others, who I think will all be there on the day when we renew our vows! In a way, it’s nice to have them there as well as our family and friends so that we can say thank you again for all the care and support they have given to us.”

Talking about the care received at the Hospice, David continued:

“When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer there wasn’t any obvious signs or symptoms. I have gone from thinking that I had seven or eight years to live, to now being told I might have a few months. Because of that I want to make sure that I make the most of time.

“I’m at St Oswald’s currently but I’d like to go home in the next few weeks. I can’t fault the care at St Oswald’s – I’ve learnt that it’s not a place that focuses on dying, it’s about living. The care is above and beyond anything I expected, and there is such a nice atmosphere amongst staff. If I’m having any medical treatment, Stephen can sit in one of the nice seating areas if he wants to and the staff have made such an effort to get to know him too. If I had to describe St Oswald’s to someone, I’d say it was more like a boutique hotel than a hospice.”

Anne Tuck, Acting Matron at St Oswald’s Adult Inpatient Unit, said:

“At St Oswald’s we do all we can to care for patients and families while they are with us, and to support their wishes. Our main focus is to provide outstanding care, and for us, part of that is supporting families to make the most of time, however long that might be. It’s a privilege for us to be part of David and Stephen’s special day, and we’re honoured that they trust us to help us to organise the day for them. Everyone in the Hospice is really excited and pulling together to make this an unforgettable day for the couple and their family.”