A grandad who is losing his battle against cancer has fulfilled his wish to marry his sweetheart.
Tommy Fletcher and Jacky Wilkinson have been a couple for 25 years, but have never managed to get the money together to get married.
Now they are man and wife, after Miles for Men and the people of Hartlepool rallied round to make their dream come true, pulling together the plans for a celebration in just three weeks.
Tommy, 49, beat cancer once before in 2015, but has been told the chemotherapy being used to treat the stomach and bowel cancer is not working.
The father-of-two and Jacky, 45, gathered at The AVenue in Lauder Street in the town and were surrounded by friends and family as they finally tied the knot.
The ceremony followed a public appeal launched by the charity, which had first been contacted by the couple to ask if they could take a break in the caravan run by the fund.
I’m thrilled to bits and it’s so hard to describe how I feel.Tommy Fletcher
Instead, the team got to work on putting together the ceremony thanks to the help of businesses and kindhearted donors.
Tommy, who admitted to being struck by nerves ahead of the big day, said: “We’ve been wanting to do this for such a long time.
“I’m thrilled to bits and it’s so hard to describe how I feel.
“Everyone who has helped has made it so easy and I can’t think them enough really.
“It’s been a special day for everybody.”
Jacky was joined by their daughters Abbey, 20, and Lucy-Jo Fletcher, 18, and Tommy’s cousin’s daughter Ruby Murphy, while Tommy was joined by best men Johnny Gough and Dave Tumilty.
After the service, they were surprised by a winter wonderland scene set up at the bandstand in the Marina, where they took their first dance as man and wife.
Jacky and Tommy had thought about combining their day with the Christening of their grandson Thomas, now three-months-old, but were delighted when Miles for Men offered to step in and offer its services as a wedding planner.
Jacky said: “We’ve been together for so long and it meant a lot to us to get married.
“It has been amazing and all the stuff that people have given and their time, I can’t thank them enough.”
Richie Griffiths is a director of Miles for Men, which was inundated with offers of help for the pair, from a woman driving up from Nottingham to donate Champagne, to a pledge of sponsorship cash from a man growing his moustache for Movember.
“We were looking to sort them out a few days away, but when we heard they wanted to get married, we thought that’s it, and we thought about it and it went from there,” said Richie.
“We put something on Facebook and within 24 hours, we pretty much had everything sorted thanks to the help of Hartlepool, it was absolutely fantastic.
“We want to thank everyone involved, but also everyone who couldn’t be involved, because we could have held three or four weddings over with what was offered to us.
“To get everything totally sorted within three weeks is amazing.
“I know Hartlepool struggles with unemployment, but people overwhelm us because they would give their last 50p or last £1 just to know it’s going to help someone else.”
In addition to the free use of AVenue, the rings were gifted by jeweller Mark Lloyd and engraved by First Class Shoe Repairs, Key Cutting and Engraving.
A Mercedes limo from MKE Chauffeurs was used to take Tommy to the venue, while the best men travelled in an Audi R8 belonging to John Miller, while a horse drawn carriage run by John Moorhouse transported Jacky to the event.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were given by Christabel and Keats and the bride’s dress was from a wedding dress shop in Middlesbrough, while the flowers were done at cost price by Florians.
The catering was supplied by Shake Ya Bonbons, the fireworks and snow machine for the first dance organised by Artistic Solutions and photos taken by JD Photography.
Donations to the couple, who will honeymoon in Blackpool in the New Year thanks to the generosity of a hotel in the town, can still be made via http://bit.ly/2iHOlpW.