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Brian and Virginia marry at home…with Archbishop of Canterbury’s approval

AFTER 38 happy years together, Brian Elsey had intended to surprise partner Virginia with a special Gretna Green wedding.

That plan was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brian’s own battle with cancer.

But he was so determined that the wedding should go ahead that he asked our Community Team for their help make the dream come true.

And they brought in our chaplain Mike Reeder, who had to obtain a special marriage licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faculty Office before he could conduct the ceremony at the couple’s Hackenthorpe home.

“After being together for 38 years, getting married was one of those things we kept putting off and putting off,” said Virginia.

“I’d been married before and had three children when I met Brian, then we had two girls together and now we have eight grandsons and a granddaughter, so the wedding kept being put on the back burner.

“Brian wanted to surprise me with a trip to Gretna Green but when he became ill and the cancer started to get worse that couldn’t happen.

“He’s been battling cancer for six years and I’ve had breast cancer myself so we knew we really did want to get married now and thanks to everybody at St Luke’s, that has happened.”

The COVID-safe ceremony took place in the couple’s bedroom, with youngest daughters Elizabeth and Hannah as witnesses as Brian and Virginia exchanged their vows and Mike pronounced them husband and wife.

“It was a lovely day and very special for us,” said Virginia. “It might have taken us a long time - but we got there eventually!”

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