Bungay couple’s wedding brought forward as cancer strikes

It was the happiest day of their lives – but also one of the saddest.

For as Garry Reed married Anita Leggett in a converted north Suffolk barn on Saturday the couple knew they may never enjoy their first anniversary together.

Emotions were running high as the couple exchanged vows in front of 70 friends and family members, as Mr Reed has advanced cancer and he is unsure how long he has left to live.

The 49-year-old was due to marry his sweetheart in May but because he is succumbing to the disease he moved forward his wedding by two months.

The couple, who live in Nethergate Street, Bungay, had planned to get married in the Fisher Theatre. But after being told Mr Reed's cancer was spreading last month the couple decided to tie the knot earlier as they were not sure if he would be alive or well enough by May.

Luckily one of Mr Reed's best friends, Tyrone Cattermole, stepped in to offer them the perfect wedding venue – his home, a converted barn in All Saints South Elmham which was big enough to hold 70 people and a wedding ceremony and reception.

And friends and family were also on hand to make sure they had a day they will never forget as they decorated Nells Barn with colourful banners and provided food and chairs.

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The couple had to apply for special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury so they could get married in a residential property.

And on Saturday the hasty arrangements and help from friends paid off as the couple married with hardly a dry eye in the building.

Instead of walking down the aisle, the bride walked down a staircase in a white V-necked dress and a red shawl, escorted by her proud grandchildren Kai and Jack Wollnough accompanied by Ronan Keating's 'When you say nothing at all'.

The couple sat through most of the emotional ceremony as Mr Reed bravely battled his cancer to make sure he married the woman of his dreams after being in a relationship with her for the last five years.

At the beginning of the ceremony Mr Reed stood in front of his wife-to-be and family and friends and read out a poem called True Love, in lines which summed up his feelings: 'True love is a sacred flame that burns eternally, and none can dim its special glow or change its destiny.'

During the service the Rev Edward Rennard, rector of Blyth Valley and Halesworth, said how rare it was for the Archbishop of Canterbury to hand out special licences which allow people to marry anywhere at a given time with a good reason. He said: 'He does not give them out lightly.'

As the sun shone on the couple through the large windows, Mr Rennard said: 'After a difficult year they have had it is good to share a great day like this.'

Tears began to flow as the ceremony reached its climax as Mr Reed placed a ring on Anita's hand watched on by his grandsons and bestmen Mark and Luke Lyall.

And then there was rapturous applause and cheers as Mr Reed kissed his new wife, who was then showered in confetti.

After the wedding Mr Reed, who used to work at Two Sisters Food Group at Flixton, near, Bungay, said: 'I can't thank everyone enough for their help today. Without them we would not be married today.

'It has been a lovely day. Anita looked beautiful. We will just take each day as it comes now.'

The bride, 58, originally from Kessingland, who met her husband through work, said: 'Today has been lovely but it is a bit hard knowing we may not celebrate our first anniversary together.'

Mr Cattermole, 48, who is a butcher, was glad he could help his friend by offering the barn as a venue. He acted as an usher with another of Mr Reed's close friends Peter Scott.

Mr Cattermole said: 'I am just so choked up. It has been a great day. I would do anything to make Garry and Anita happy.'