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10 April 2015

Bristol couple make history with marriage at son’s hospital bedside

Staff at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children pulled together to make a patient's dream come true. Corey Edwards had always wanted his parents, Jemma and Craig, to get married and now they have made history by becoming the first couple to tie the knot in Bristol Children's Hospital - at their son's bedside. 

Corey wedding 1

Corey Edwards sadly passed away on Thursday 9 April on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children after being admitted in January. Diagnosed with a complex congenital heart defect at the age of seven months old, Corey underwent eight open-heart surgeries and other treatment.

Staff from PICU and the cardiac ward at Bristol Children's Hospital got to know Corey and his family, forming close relationships with the cheerful five year old. When Corey's family were told his condition was deteriorating, and there was a possibility he may pass away in hospital, it became clear Corey wanted one wish to come true more than anything - for his parents to get married.

The couple from Teignmouth in Devon were engaged for three years but their plans to marry were put on hold due to the birth of their two younger daughters Isabelle (2) and Caitlyn (24 weeks) and Corey's ill health. When they learnt of their son's wish, they felt there was no time like the present. With the help of staff, and friends made at the hospital, plans were put in place to help the couple marry at Bristol Children's Hospital.

Jemma and Craig Edwards said: "When we knew Corey's wishes, everyone on PICU and Ward 32, including staff and friends, got together to help us. The Bishop of Bristol had to write to the Archbishop of Canterbury to get special permission for us to marry in the hospital and we are so grateful he agreed."

Corey wedding 2"When we got the go ahead, we only had a matter of days to plan. We rushed into town to buy a dress and suit and made do with our engagement rings as wedding rings. We couldn't believe the generosity of all those involved. One nurse helped to do Jemma's hair, whilst another two members of staff made the cake and iced it. Chairs were pulled together to form an aisle and decorations were put up to make it feel like a wedding venue.

"We were married on Saturday 4 April by the hospital's chaplain, Stephen Oram, who was very excited to be sharing this occasion with us. However, the most important thing for us was having our son Corey at our side, holding the rings and wearing his suit. We couldn't have been more proud of him. We were also incredibly lucky to have our daughters there and the support of so many."

William Booth, Matron for PICU said: "It was a privilege to share Craig and Jemma's special day with their children Corey, Isabelle and Caitlyn, family and friends.  The whole hospital was abuzz with excitement; one of the nurses made and iced a cake others brought in flowers and gifts for the newlyweds. Lots of the nursing and medical teams involved in Corey's care came in over the Easter break to share this special occasion with them all".

The newlyweds spent their wedding night at their son's bedside and later returned to the Ronald McDonald House where they are staying whilst Corey is in hospital.

Craig Edwards said: "It may not have been the day we had initially planned in our heads but it didn't matter to us. To have our son there meant more than anything and it will be a day we will never forget. We can't thank the staff enough for what they have done for us and Corey and we would like them to know how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication."