St Catherine’s hosts poignant wedding blessing for Phil to give away his beloved daughter
A dad who had been given days to live was honoured to give his daughter away during an emotional wedding blessing hosted by St Catherine’s in the hospice’s chapel.
When Phil Whalley was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he said that one of his main wishes was to walk his daughter Jessica down the aisle.
This week, a poignant ceremony was arranged by the charity’s Family Support Team for Jessica and her fiancé Lee Dolan to share special memories with her parents Phil and Sharon, surrounded by close family and friends.
“It meant the world to me to have my dad there for the blessing,” Jessica said. “It’s every girl’s dream for her dad to walk her down the aisle, and he told my mum that was one of his wishes when he was diagnosed a year ago.
“Although he wasn’t well enough to physically walk with me, he held my hand and kissed my hand and it was such a special occasion.”
Dad-of-three Phil, 53, a keen motorbike enthusiast from Lostock Hall, wore cufflinks which Jessica and Lee had bought him especially, as he gave his daughter away.
Mum-of-two Jessica, 27, added: “The wedding is booked for 17th March and when we planned it, we thought he would be here for the big day. The chemo was working well at first and we even went on a family holiday last year to Spain which was amazing, and we made lots of nice memories.
“But when I got back from my hen do three weeks ago, he had deteriorated and was told he only had six weeks.
“He was referred to St Catherine’s from hospital and he’s much more comfortable now and seems at peace.
“The care has been incredible and they’re looking after the whole family; they understand what we’re all going through.
“When we said we wanted a blessing so he could be there, the Family Support Team arranged it within hours. They sorted out a bouquet of flowers and decorated the chapel and put canapes and cakes on afterwards. It was just amazing.”
The charity’s volunteer chaplain, Rev Jeff Fearnley, led the moving ceremony at the Lostock Hall hospice, which Jessica described as being ‘magical’. Her and Lee’s daughters, Scarlett-Rose, aged seven, and Olithia, two, were flowergirls.
Jessica has set up a fundraising page to support the valuable work of St Catherine’s, which relies on the community to help raise vital funds to continue providing specialist palliative and end-of-life care to local people when it matters most. Please click here if you would like to show your support.
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