Bride flies high over St Catherine’s Hospice during special wedding day
A mum-of-two with terminal cancer has achieved a lifelong dream of riding in a helicopter with her family, as she took to the skies during her special wedding celebrations this week.
Hairdresser Colette Mason was joined by new husband James Chapman, their three-year-old son Lewis, and groomsmen as they took flight above the grounds of St Catherine’s Hospice on Thursday.
Staff at the Lostock Hall hospice worked with fellow charity Miles of Smiles to make the family’s dream come true, with the helicopter landing in the grounds of St Catherine’s Park.
Colette, 29, who is also mum to daughter Ella, aged five months, said: “Having a helicopter at our wedding was something James and I had always wanted, as a memorable part of the day for our children.
“It’s important for me to create happy memories for them and I’m really pleased that it all came together and that all of our friends and family could enjoy the day with us.”
The entire week was full of celebrations for the bride, as Colette marked her 29th birthday on Saturday with her children playing in the hospice’s gardens, and invited around 25 guests to her hen party in the charity’s Garden Room on Tuesday.
“We played games and they did quizzes about how well they know me,” Colette said. “There were two teams and we had to make wedding dresses out of toilet paper, which was funny, and we danced, ate and drank. There was also a blow-up doll!
“It was like any other hen do really. If I wasn’t in this situation it would have been different, but you’ve got to make the best of it, which is what we did.”
Colette and self-employed plumber James, who live in Ashton, met through mutual friends in 2010.
James got down on one knee in their living room in April this year, much to Colette’s surprise, and the couple originally talked about marrying in three years’ time.
She explained: “When James proposed, I had already been diagnosed with cervical cancer in February, but treatment was going well and we thought I would get better.
“We talked about getting married in 2019 so that my hair would have chance to grow back and our little girl would be a bit older.
“But in July I found out it was terminal, so we booked a wedding at Stanley House in Mellor for 30th September this year.
“We were going to have a helicopter and I was really excited, but earlier in August doctors said there was nothing more they could do for me, and they recommended moving the wedding forward.”
Brave Colette has undergone four sessions of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiotherapy, as well as two sessions of Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) at The Christie cancer centre in Manchester, before she was admitted to St Catherine’s on 3rd August.
“The tumour was shrinking and the treatment was working,” she explained. “But it was an aggressive form of cancer and it had got into my bloodstream, and spread to my liver and bones.
“I was devastated when the doctors told me there was nothing more they could do, especially because I have two children.
“And it was awful when they said about moving the wedding forward – it upset me that it all had to be rushed, but I’m just pleased that it all came together. I really wanted to create those memories for the children and James.”
Colette’s family, friends, and staff from St Catherine’s and Miles of Smiles all pulled together to help the couple make arrangements for the special day, from the flowers and refreshments, to the extraordinary helicopter flight.
The bride enjoyed time away from the inpatient unit on the Friday before the wedding to choose a dress from WED2B in Bolton, and staff from St Catherine’s helped source a number of outfits from the hospice charity shops throughout the week for some of her guests.
The bride, her six bridesmaids, (with Ella as a flower girl), mum Diane Mason and grandma Jacqueline Dixon got ready at the hospice on the morning of the big day.
Colette’s hairdresser used the hospice’s onsite salon to help the girls look their best for the occasion, and an Audi A4 and limousine took the bridal party to Preston Registration Office, where an emotional ceremony was held at 1.30pm.
Around 90 guests returned to St Catherine’s Hospice to enjoy drinks and canapés on the lawn, before the helicopter took flight at around 4pm. The family flew for 20 minutes to take in the sights of Lancashire, including Blackpool Tower, before returning to St Catherine’s Park.
The wedding party went on to Charnock Farm in Leyland for the reception, and father-of-the-bride Richard had made a special three-tiered cake, which he enjoys doing as a hobby.
The newlyweds spent the night in the honeymoon suite, with other family members also staying over so they could enjoy breakfast together the next morning.
Jimmy Brash, director of care at St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “We were honoured to do our part to make Colette and James’s wedding day a meaningful and memorable occasion for the whole family.
“The care we provide here isn’t just about treating and managing physical symptoms, but is also about offering emotional, spiritual and practical support to patients and their loved ones, treating them as individuals and helping them to achieve their own personal wishes whenever we can.
“It was a real team effort coordinated by our family support department involving staff from across the hospice, from the inpatient unit and maintenance, to health and safety and retail, which resulted in a really special day being created for Colette, her family and friends.
“We’d also like to thank the Miles of Smiles charity for the amazing helicopter ride they managed to arrange to create a special memory for the newlyweds, their son and guests, which was a real highlight of the day – and a first for St Catherine’s!”
With further support from the dedicated medical staff and the Family Support Team at St Catherine’s, Colette hopes to return home in the near future to spend quality time with her new husband and beloved children.
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