AS courageous Tracey Barnard bravely battled cervical cancer, she looked ahead to an exciting future with her partner Andy Morgan and vowed to beat the disease.
The inseparable couple have been together for more than 12 years but have never been able to afford to tie the knot.
After months of gruelling treatment medics sat Tracey down and told her the tumour had shrunk - but just moments later explained that the cancer had spread to her lungs and that there was nothing more they could do.
The couple, who live on the Headland, vowed to do what they had always wanted - get married - but only had £120 saved which would pay for a wedding ceremony at Hartlepool Civic Centre and allow two witnesses.
But a chance conversation at Hartlepool & District Hospice’s day centre led to the incredibly dedicated hospice staff taking it upon themselves to organise a wedding the loving couple will never forget.
On May 28 this year, 52-year-old Tracey and Andy, 46, will exchange vows at St Hilda’s Church, on the Headland, after receptionist Beverley Playfor, and Jan Dunn, senior health care assistant at the hospice, contacted the church who kindly agreed to hold the service.
And other businesses have all played their part. A wedding dress for Tracey and tartan wear for Andy have been supplied by Christabel & Keats, a venue organised for the wedding reception, a buffet, cars, balloons, disco, flowers all donated.
Tracey will even arrive at the church on her big day in a gold Bentley.
Tracey told the Mail: “It’s the fairytale wedding I’ve always dreamed of. Our dream is going to come true.”
Despite a devastating last year, Tracey still manages to smile, laugh and joke - all of the time holding Andy’s hand.
She tells how Andy has supported her through the heartbreaking period, but said they have gone through it all as a couple.
“I always say it’s not me that’s got cancer - it’s us,” she says. “We have both lived it over the last year, it hasn’t just affected me.”
But she breaks down in tears as she looks back on the moment shortly before Christmas she was told the cancer had spread. “It just broke my heart,” she sobbed.
“It didn’t feel real.
“We had planned to go on holiday this year and then to get married, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“It’s not fair.”
As Tracey battled through gruelling courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy last year, Andrew had to give up his job as a coach driver to care for the love of his life.
Tracey started to attend the day hospice at the Wells Avenue-based facility to allow Andy some respite time. And it was during a crafts session with staff at the hospice, Tracey explained that she would like to design some wedding invitations and explained her and Andy were going to try and fulfil their dream and book a date at the Civic Centre.
“We knew we could only afford the wedding at the civic centre with two guests,” said Tracey.
“It wouldn’t have seemed like a real wedding, not the one I had always wanted anyway, it would just be a room. But from when I mentioned that in the crafts session it just snowballed and Beverley and Jan organised absolutely everything.
“There aren’t enough thanks in the world for me to say how grateful I am.
Beverley said: “The response we have had from businesses and the community has just been incredible.”