Mixed emotions for Gloria Hunniford as son weds at church where Caron buried
Gloria Hunniford's son Paul Keating has told how his upcoming wedding at the Kent church where his sister Caron is buried will be a day of mixed emotions and poignant memories for all his family.
The 51-year-old, whose company designs sound systems for television shows such as Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, is set to wed his fiancée Lisa Abbott at St Peter's Church, Hever on October 4 - the same church where Caron married Russ Lindsay in 1991 and where his mother married hairdresser Stephen Way some seven years later.
The family returned to the quiet countryside church in 2004 for the funeral of television presenter and mum-of-two Caron, after she lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 41.
Though Paul's autumn wedding will be tinged with sadness at her absence, he believes he will feel close to his beloved sister on the day, as he exchanges vows with his beauty therapist girlfriend.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Paul, who has two sons Jake (20) and Beau (17) from a previous relationship, said: "St Peter's Church, which is just outside the grounds of Hever Castle, has a very special meaning to all my family.
"Not only did Caron and Russ get married there, and then mum and Stephen, but it's also where Caron is buried.
"I'd always wanted a church wedding and Hever was my first choice because of the links to my family, but because my fiancée Lisa had been married before, we didn't think it would be possible.
"We asked the Reverend Jane Weeks at Hever if we could have a blessing, but she said she'd be happy to marry us there.
"Of course it will bring back poignant memories for us all. Not only did Caron and Russ marry at Hever, but Caron's grave is there too. It's an emotional place for us to go, but it will be lovely to be there to celebrate something.
"When I told mum, she loved the idea of us getting married at Hever. It's just so relevant to us as a family and she was over the moon."
Caron's husband Russ, who has since remarried, will be one of Paul's three best men, alongside his brother Michael Keating and his business partner Mark Bonner. Lisa (48) has three daughters, Chloe (26) and twins Summer and Angelica (21), who will be bridesmaids. Russ's young daughters with second wife, television presenter Sally Meen, Tilly (7) and five-year-old Flora, will be flower girls at the wedding. Paul's two sons and Caron's boys Charlie (20) and Gabriel (18) will also be part of the bridal party.
"It is very much a family affair, with everyone involved," said Paul.
"It's nice to be able to do something happy for us all.
"It won't be a showbiz wedding at all, just close friends and family.
"We're having a lot of nice little personal touches too.
"Mum had a rose named after Caron when she died and we planted hundreds of them in the grounds of Hever Castle. So we're going to get the rose petals dried and the flower girls will sprinkle them at the church."
Paul popped the question to Lisa on a day trip to Climping Beach in West Sussex after dating for 18 months.
"I've never been married before but I was in a long-term relationship," he said.
"If someone had told me two years ago that I was going to meet someone, fall in love and get married, I wouldn't have believed them.
"But it happened and I'm very happy. And it's nice for mum because she's getting a daughter-in-law too."
Gloria said she was delighted for the couple, who will hold their reception in Hever Castle after the church service.
"When I first moved here in 1982, I wanted a church as a base and Hever was perfect. For all sorts of reasons it is very special to my family - anniversaries, weddings, funerals.
"It's an important place for us all," she said.
"I'm really thrilled that Paul and Lisa are getting married there and I'm very much looking forward to their big day."