It was the dying wish of terminally ill patient Daniel Paton to marry his girlfriend Ashlea Hanson and on Tuesday night they decided to make the commitment.
They expected a simple bedside ceremony to follow but the big-hearted community of Calvary Hospital in Belconnen wasn’t having that.
The hospital rose as one to deliver a memorable wedding for the couple, all organised within 18 hours, right down to the cafe making the cake and a nurse going home to get her own wedding gown out of her cupboard for Ashlea to wear. It fitted perfectly.
The couple was married in the hospital chapel on Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony packed with family and friends and hospital staff.
‘‘There was not a dry eye in the place,’’ Ashlea’s mother Cathy said.
It has left the couple and their families brimming with gratitude for the care and kindness shown by hospital staff, right across the building.
‘‘This hospital is absolutely amazing. They just organised the whole wedding,’’ Cathy said.
The nurse who brought in the dress also brought in shoes for 26-year-old Ashlea. Another nurse had a friend who was a beautician who came in to do her hair and make-up. Pastoral care staff organised a minister. Zouki Cafe at the hospital made the wedding cake. Another staff member brought in a video to film the ceremony. A photographer was organised. The florist provided the bouquet and flowers. Catering staff organised food.
‘‘Whatever you did for a wedding, they did. There was not one stone unturned. It was absolutely amazing,’’ Cathy said.
‘‘It was just lovely. I can’t fault this hospital. We thought we were just coming to a bedside wedding and they had the chapel. The chapel was full....It was the most beautiful, moving thing.’’
Ashlea’s friend Aleera Wren was also critical, managing to get a fast-tracked marriage licence and buying the rings for the couple.
Cathy said her daughter and new son-in-law were incredibly moved by everything done for them.
‘‘Ashlea, who has been so stressed, after the wedding, I saw her that night and I said to her, ‘You look so much more relaxed’ and she just said, ‘I gave him his wish’,’’ she said.
Daniel, 27, an abattoir worker from Wagga Wagga, was diagnosed with melanoma last July, the cancer spreading throughout his body.
He was admitted to hospital last Sunday and there were fears he would not survive the week. He also had a fall when Ashlea was going to get a wheelchair and had to have stitches in his face.
Mrs Paton said Daniel, her only child, was a fighter.
‘‘Daniel has a message, Daniel says that Ashlea is the best thing to ever happen to him and she’s the love of his life,’’ she said, through tears.
The couple, who met last November , wanted their mothers to do the talking for them on Friday. Ashlea, who works for the ACT Government, met Daniel after he was diagnosed with melanoma. The two had formed an instant connection.
‘‘It’s just a shame because they’re the perfect couple. It’s like they found each other and it was meant to be,’’ Cathy said.
‘‘They’re soul mates but it’s just been cut short. But not really because if it’s meant to be, he’ll be still with her, regardless.’’
Daniel’s melanoma was first detected when he had a mole on his arm and bumped it a couple of times.
‘‘He just kept getting more and went on clinical trials in January which worked for a little while and kept it at bay but it started growing again,’’ Mrs Paton said.
The young man had never spent too much time in the sun, his mother said.
‘‘He was never a sunbaker. Never been a boy to run around without a shirt on or anything like that. The doctor just said, ‘It was the luck of the draw’,’’ she said.
Mrs Paton said she and her husband David were very proud of him.
‘‘He’s a very positive boy and he just says, ‘One day at a time’,’’ she said. And Ashlea is ‘‘their angel’’ for making his dream come true.
‘‘It’s terminal, he knows it’s terminal but they’re just so happy,’’ Mrs Paton said.