Paul Williamson wedding: Pictures from emotional service as dying groom marries former college sweetheart Anne Hope
IT WAS the Valentine’s Day wedding that fulfilled dying Paul Williamson’s last wish.
The former Birmingham student, diagnosed with terminal cancer, today won his race against time by marrying his former college sweetheart Anne Hope.
The couple tied the knot at Elmdon Church in Solihull in a service organised in just a fortnight.
And their shoestring budget was boosted by a tidal wave of financial support from businesses touched by their story.
Paul, who is just 48, bravely made his vows despite being left struggling to speak by mouth and throat cancer.
His sister Lynda Crabb said: “I understood every word he said.
“It was wonderful.”
The couple, who were only reunited last May, had been engaged for just a month when the former concert pianist, from Tile Hill in Coventry, was told his cancer was terminal last August.
But their marriage was written in the stars as they had dated 30 years earlier as fellow students at the old Coventry School of Music.
Their initial two-year relationship fizzled out when Paul moved to Sheldon after winning a place at Birmingham Conservatoire.
Love bloomed for a second time three decades later when Anne, also 48, spotted Paul’s name on a directory of music teachers and the couple met up.
But tragedy struck when Paul was told he did not have long to live – and they decided to organise their quickfire wedding late last month.
A string of firms raced to help make their wedding a day to remember – including posh Nailcote Hall at Berkswell, near Solihull, which staged the reception.
And the choice of church was also significant as it was where Paul’s parents were married 56 years earlier.
The ceremony began at 1.30pm with the bride arriving at the church in a cream Beauford Open Top Tourer.
She wore a beautiful white dress with red and diamanté detailing and carried a bouquet of red roses.
Paul wore a tailored suit from the Suit Lounge in Holbrooks, Coventry.
It was provided after his family struggled to find a suit to fit him because his weight plummeted to eight stone.
Anne was walked down the aisle by John, Paul’s father, to Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
The groom’s twin brother David was best man.
The theme of the service, conducted by the Rev Toby Crowe, was a line taken from The Beatles’ hit All You Need is Love.
The vicar said: “All you need is love.
“Who better is there to give that message to the world than you?”
As the service continued, Anne sneaked loving glances at her new husband.
She held his hand lovingly throughout readings given by friends and family, including her teenage daughter Ellie.
When Paul felt tired, Anne helped support him by wrapping her arm protectively around his waist.
During the signing of the wedding register, a duo of flautists performed the Brian Adams hit Everything I Do and Take That’s Rule the World.
Rod Simpson, of dove release firm Wings of White, provided two doves for the couple to release outside the church following the ceremony.
Telling how the couple decided to marry, Lynda said previously: “Both Paul and Anne were very emotional.
“I was with Anne and she got upset and said that all she wanted to do was marry Paul.
“When I took Paul to the doctors, he got emotional and said that he wanted to marry Anne too.
“We just take everything one day at a time.
“He never gives up.
“He’s full of spirit.
“He still plays the piano and can drag me around and then out to the pub.”
“Anne is go good with Paul. She cares for him so much.”