“A happy hippy hospice” is how Helen Mcginlay describes her special wedding blessing – but she admits it was tinged with sadness.

Helen had her wedding vows blessed at Bury Hospice recently – a first for the Rochdale Old Road site – with a hippy theme for family and friends.

But the vows were emotional with husband Jock, 61, recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and the blessing was on his bucket list.

Not only this but Helen herself is in remission for breast cancer following three years of treatment.

“It was a happy hippy hospice for the day,” said Helen, 57, who lives with Jock in Holcombe Brook. “It was a perfect day but very emotional.”

Helen and Jock, whose real name is Eric but everyone knows him as Jock, have been married for 11 years, it’s both their second marriages.

Jock was actually best man at Helen’s sister Joanne’s wedding when Helen was bridesmaid years ago but it was only through a chance meeting in Tesco’s in Bury between Joanne and Jock that the two later met up.

“I met him for a date on a Friday, which happened to be my birthday, and we have never been apart since,” smiled Helen. “He is my best friend, my soul mate, my everything really.”

Helen has a daughter, Katy (Anderson) from her first marriage and there are three grandchildren, Lucy (10), Libby (6) and Lewis (2) who ‘adore Jock’ says Helen.

Helen worked in the motor trade all her life, selling cars in Manchester, while Jock, who went to Tottington High School, worked as a HGV driver.

Their world was turned upside down three years ago when Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread.

“Jock was my rock going through that,” said Helen. “I had to have everything – chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy – and I was like the walking dead for a year.

“I was so tired and sick, I lost my hair and my eye-lashes and I would look in the mirror and I didn’t feel like me. But we thought we had come through that. I was just going to my pre-op appointment for reconstructive surgery around May when Jock’s legs swelled up.

“We didn’t really think much of it but the consultants called us into the office and showed us Jock’s X-Ray and they told us it was prostate cancer. This is a cancer which is the easiest to cure if caught early enough but it had spread and we had the earth-shattering news it was terminal.

“It’s heartbreaking for all of us, our grandchildren adore him and are struggling to understand while me and Jock have never had a row, I absolutely adore him. It’s so hard.”

Helen and Jock decided to write a bucket list and item number one for Jock was to renew their wedding vows.

“My mum Brenda Waldron has been a volunteer on Bury Hospice’s reception since my dad died for many years, she has always sung the praises of Bury Hospice and we knew about their Japanese Garden.

“We talked to people at the hospice who said they had never held a wedding blessing there before but why not? They said they would give it a go.

“It was a hippy theme for family and close friends, it was floral and bright. Unfortunately Storm Brian gatecrashed so we couldn’t use the garden but it was still beautiful. It was simply amazing.

“Deborah Lisle, who had lost her husband the year before at Bury Hospice, was the celebrant and it was very emotional. There were tears and laughter. We wanted to create wonderful memories for family and friends and hopefully we did that.”

After the ceremony, Jock was whisked off in a Lamborghini, arranged for by friends Lara and David Gibbon, while Helen was in a white Bentley and taken to the Malmaison in Manchester.

“We got out of these posh cars, dressed in hippy gear and everyone was looking like we were celebrities. It was the icing on the cake for us.”

Jock has ticked another off his bucket list by watching the legends at Manchester United in a box and Helen is hoping there is time to create plenty more memories.

“Jock said going to Manchester United was one of the best days of his life along with the blessing. We do take each day as it comes –it’s tough but you have to stay positive.”

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