A ‘soulmate’ couple who face being separated by terminal cancer seized the chance to renew their wedding vows with a hippy ceremony.
The special wedding blessing for Helen and Jock Mcginlay channelled the spirit of a ‘happy hippy solstice’ but was tinged with sadness as the event was a dying wish for Jock, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.
The 61-year-old said that renewing his wedding vows was top of his bucket list after the devastating news that he had developed the disease.
For Helen, 57, herself in remission for breast cancer after three years of treatment, the terminal prognosis was ‘heartbreaking’.
But the couple, who live in Holcombe Brook , were determined to mark their 11 years of marriage with a hippy-themed event with family and friends at Bury Hospice - a first for the end-of-life care facility.
Grandmother-of-three, Helen, said: “It was a happy hippy hospice for the day. It was a perfect day but very emotional.
“We talked to people at the hospice who said they had never held a wedding blessing there before but why not? They said they would give it a go.
“It was a hippy theme for family and close friends, it was floral and bright. There were tears and laughter. We wanted to create wonderful memories for family and friends and hopefully we did that.”
Jock, whose real name is Eric but is known by everyone as Jock, first met Helen when he was best man at her sister’s wedding but they were drawn together through a chance meeting at Tesco’s in Bury.
Helen has worked in the motor trade all her life, selling cars in Manchester, while Jock, who went to Tottington High School , worked as a HGV driver.
But their happy life together was turned upside down when Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 which had spread, and Jock became her ‘rock’.
Helen said: “I had to have everything – chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy – and I was like the walking dead for a year.
“I was so tired and sick, I lost my hair and my eye-lashes and I would look in the mirror and I didn’t feel like me. But we thought we had come through that. I was just going to my pre-op appointment for reconstructive surgery around May when Jock’s legs swelled up.”
A routine check revealed the ‘earth-shattering’ news that Jock had incurable cancer.
Helen said: “We didn’t really think much of it but the consultants called us into the office and showed us Jock’s X-Ray and they told us it was prostate cancer. This is a cancer which is the easiest to cure if caught early enough but it had spread and we had the earth-shattering news it was terminal.
“It’s heartbreaking for all of us, our grandchildren adore him and are struggling to understand while me and Jock have never had a row, I absolutely adore him. It’s so hard.After the ceremony, they were whisked off to the Malmaison in Manchester in a pair of supercars, Jock in a Lamborghini, arranged for by friends Lara and David Gibbon, while Helen was in a white Bentley.
Jock has also been able to tick off another bucket list goal and watch Manchester United from a box, which Helen said was ‘one of the best days of his life along with the blessing’.
She added: “We do take each day as it comes – it’s tough but you have to stay positive.
“He is my best friend, my soul mate, my everything really.”