He claimed he had been married 5 times and had 15 children and Jill told him she was the Queen of Sheba! They immediately hit it off, and over the next few years they fell in love.

In October 2013, Simon noticed he was struggling to finish his sentences and was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Fit from running marathons, doctors felt Simon was strong enough to undergo radical treatment to lengthen his life. Friends and neighbours all rallied together and organised a rota to help the couple make the 175 mile round trips to Coventry for chemo- and radiotherapy.

In February 2013, Simon suddenly started talking and walking. Jill said, ‘It felt like a miracle. We decided to go on a cruise to the Baltic. Simon was even well enough to join me on the dance floor. Over a romantic meal, Simon went down on one knee and asked me to marry him.’

Immediately the couple began planning their wedding. Sadly, Simon’s condition worsened and by the weekend before their proposed wedding Simon’s medical team felt he would not be fit enough to travel and cope with a full-blown marriage service and reception. Simon and Jill had also been hoping to attend Simon’s son Sam’s wedding to his fiancée, Ali.

Jill said, ‘As an alternative, I suggested arranging a blessing of the relationship for Simon and myself and a pre-wedding blessing for Sam and Ali at the same time. Hospice Chaplain Rev David Vonberg agreed to officiate and we were able to invite our closest relations for a ceremony held at the chapel inside St Michael’s.’

Jill and Simon found the service simple but very moving, and having Sam and Ali saying the things they planned to say at their own wedding made it a truly special day. Afterwards Simon was well enough to relish a joyous celebration with all their guests at Blue Ginger Gallery in Cradley, where speeches, music and dancing affirmed the life and love of the happy couple.

Rev David Vonberg said, ‘Staff at St Michael’s Hospice will always do all they can to bring a patient’s wishes to life. These blessings at St Michael’s Hospice were a very special event and something we were proud to offer. We are also hoping that it will be possible to conduct marriage services for patients and families in the new building.’