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The hospice wedding reception

Author: St Catherine's Hospice
14 July 2017

Gina Tipping did not think she would be able to see her daughter Nicole get married earlier this year, however St Catherine's Hospice in Crawley made this possible. Here mother and daughter share their story.


 It was when my pain started to become unmanageable at home that the idea of coming to stay at St Catherine’s was first suggested. I had been seeing a hospice nurse once a week but never imagined that one day I might have to take that care from home to the hospice. When the nurse suggested moving me to St Catherine’s, my initial reaction was “no”. I did not want to come; I imagined the hospice signalling “the end”. In hindsight, I can see how wrong I was.

Being able to attend Nicole’s wedding was amazing, and it is something I would not have been able to do without the help of St Catherine's Occupational Therapist who got me a wheelchair for the day so I could leave the hospice. Not only that, but St Catherine’s team held a reception at the hospice the following day so I could join in the celebrations.

One of the main reasons I did not want to come to the hospice was because I did not want to be away from my family, but the fact that my daughters can stay the night and be by my side at all times has made a huge difference. I had no idea before I came here that the hospice offered so much care and support to families, particularly with counselling. My other daughter has young children, and we did not know how to tell them about my illness and why I am at the hospice. It is a difficult conversation and we just did not know how to approach it.  The Patient and Family Support Team have been really great, helping us find ways to talk to my grandchildren and help them to understand.

St Catherine’s is nothing like I imagined it, and it has been the best decision to come here. I cannot thank the staff enough for their kindness, their support and for allowing me to be by Nicole’s side on her big day.


When mum was first referred to St Catherine’s, I did not want her to go. I imagined the environment to be horrible, and I was adamant that it was not the right place for her. It all felt too final. I am so pleased we decided to bring her here after all. In a short space of time mum’s pain has significantly decreased and she is able to live more normally.

When I started to realise she might not be well enough to attend my wedding, St Catherine's Hospitality team approached me and suggested they hold a blessing or reception for my whole family at the hospice, meaning mum could still be very much involved.

The fact the hospice team worked so hard to arrange a reception for us was amazing. They decorated the hospice coffee shop, I wore my wedding dress, mum dressed in her Mother of the Bride outfit and my loved ones all came together. Despite initial worries, mum was able to come to our actual wedding, which we were over the moon about it. Having her there on my big day meant the world.

The help my family has received from St Catherine’s is invaluable: the counselling services;, the nursing support, even just someone to bring my sister and I a cup of tea and some toast in the mornings without us even asking; none of it goes unnoticed.

St Catherine’s has taken so much stress away from us as a family, it has made a huge difference.

For more information visit St Catherine’s Hospice

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