A couple facing an uncertain future after discovering one of them has a rare, debilitating illness are to renew their wedding vows in a poignant ceremony on Valentine’s Day.
Steve and Chris Burgin, of Grovehill, will say ‘I do’ again in the chapel at The Hospice of St Francis, the charity that has been supporting them since Steve was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease last April.
The service will take place on Saturday at 2pm - exactly 18 years to the day after they first tied the knot in Gretna Green.
This time they will be sharing their big day with 30 close family members and friends before continuing the celebrations at Hemel Hempstead Rugby Club.
“It’s been a very difficult and stressful time since Steve was diagnosed,” said mum-of-three Chris, 58. “He’s lost all movement in his arms and hands and he can’t feed, dress or wash himself.
“We don’t know exactly what lies ahead, but we love each other very much and reaffirming our wedding vows in a second marriage service will really lift our spirits and give us the emotional strength to keep coping.”
“The hospice has been our lifeline for the last seven months,” said Steve. “When Chris popped the question at Christmas I thought it was a lovely idea but from a practical point of view, we didn’t know how we could make it happen.
“The minute we mentioned it to the hospice, they offered their chapel and their chaplain Ray Ashley-Brown has been wonderful, planning everything with us.”
Former warehouse worker, Steve, 63, was being treated for arthritis in his shoulder before he started having falls and dropping things. In January 2013 poor mobility forced him to give up work, but it was another 15 months before a special nerve test confirmed the diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease last Spring.
“It was a huge shock,” said Steve. “All I could think was that I was going to end up in a wheelchair and Chris couldn’t stop crying.”
Last June, Chris gave up her job as a warehouse operative to become Steve’s full-time carer and a month later their GP referred them to the hospice’s community specialist nurse team.
Every week, Steve sees his community nurse either at home or in the hospice’s health and wellbeing Spring Centre. He also has occupational therapy to help with adaptations and equipment for the home, physiotherapy, speech therapy and regular respite visits, giving Chris a break from her full-time caring role.
Meanwhile, Chris is having one-to-one counselling and massage therapy and she and Steve have attended the hospice’s wellbeing group, which has helped them in many ways, not least socially, enabling them to meet others in a similar situation to themselves.
> If you would like to help make a difference to people who need its support now and in the future,
call the hospice on 01442 869550 or visit www.stfrancis.org.uk to find out more.