Bittersweet day as Willie Turner ticks off final bucket list wish with dream wedding
It's a dream come true for cancer patient as readers rally round to give couple the perfect wedding
A terminally ill cancer patient has had his final wish to marry his fiancée granted in a dream wedding that was made possible thanks to big-hearted Belfast Telegraph readers.
Willie Turner (42) from Portadown tied the knot with the love of his life Lyndsey Browne (35) in a very special ceremony surrounded by their family and friends in the historic beauty of Lurgan's Brownlow House.
The Portadown couple have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local businesses who came together to offer their services free so that Willie's bucket list wish to marry Lyndsey could come true.
Such was the outpouring of love for the couple, that within days of their moving story being featured in the Belfast Telegraph last November, everything from wedding dresses, car hire, a venue, cake, food, a band and even entertainment for the children were offered free of charge.
And yesterday Willie, who faces more chemotherapy treatment tomorrow, was overcome with emotion as he finally got the chance to make a radiant Lyndsey his wife.
In what was a beautiful but bittersweet day, the couple toasted their new status as man and wife surrounded by 50 members of their family and close friends.
A proud and happy Willie said: "We are over the Moon. It is lovely and what I've always wanted, especially under the circumstances.
"I've lived my bucket list and the only thing on there was to marry Lyndsey, and I've done it thanks to everyone who has so generously made it happen and made it happen so very quickly.
"It is unbelievable how good and how helpful people from our wee country have been, and it is very humbling, and we are just so thankful to everyone."
The special day was co-ordinated by Portadown woman Mandy Baxter, who was so moved by our story that she posted an appeal on social media for people to help.
Mandy put her heart and soul into helping create a wedding beyond the couple's dreams. Willie was given just months to live when diagnosed on August 7 last year with adenocarcinoma - cancer of the lung lining.
He was told that the condition was terminal and has been undergoing chemotherapy to try and stop its progress.
The chemo will not cure the cancer, but it is hoped it will slow it down, and he is due to have a scan to determine how effective it has been within the next couple of weeks. A well-known local swimming instructor, he met Lyndsey four years ago and proposed to her at Halloween in 2014. The couple have two boys Bobby (20 months) and Freddie (10 months).
Willie is also a devoted dad to Lyndsey's two boys from a previous marriage, Luke (11) and Jake (10), and has a 12-year-old daughter of his own, Karson (12).
After his diagnosis last year Lyndsey asked Willie what would be on his bucket list, and was both surprised and delighted when he said he just wanted to make her his wife.
Lyndsey, who looked every inch the perfect bride yesterday, described Willie as her soulmate: "He is my best friend, the person I thought I would grow old with. He is a brilliant dad; he is a whole lot of things.
"I never thought I would ever marry again, but as I fell in love with Willie I knew I would marry him."
Last November Willie told us that his goal was to live to see his boys start school, and prove the doctors - who have given him between 12 and 18 months to live - wrong.
He said: "Denial is a great thing. Just looking at the boys and thinking about everyone round me - my daughter, my mum, my three sisters and Lyndsey - I have to fight it, yet I can't help worrying about what will happen to them. That upsets me and I try not to think about it."
Yesterday there was only happiness as the couple enjoyed a lavish wedding gifted to them by caring members of the local community.
They are now looking forward to their honeymoon next week in Lanzarote, when they will enjoy their first holiday abroad with their children.