Couple marry at Pendleside after 30 years together

A former nurse married his sweetheart of 30 years at a wedding service held at Pendleside Hospice.

Stephen Johnson and Sheila Ridge took their vows in a moving service held in a conservatory at the hospice that had been specially prepared for the event.

Stephen has been an inpatient at the hospice for several weeks after being diagnosed with cancer in August.

After the diagnosis, Sheila, who had turned down three proposals by him over the years, got down on one knee at their home in Pembroke Street, Burnley, and asked him to marry her.

Stephen was a NHS nurse for 24 years working at both Marsden Hospital and Burnley General before leaving in 1996. Sheila still works as a NHS nurse on the medical ward at Burnley General.

After the diagnosis Stephen started his care at Blackburn Hospital and was referred to Pendleside for symptom control and pain management.

The keen walker, who also enjoys working on his allotment, said: “It is going to be a long journey but I am happy with the way things are going at the hospice. And how they prepared the conservatory and outside in the garden for the wedding was so wonderful.”  

Shelia organised the wedding with her best friends Cate Pilling and Cath Farmer along with hospice staff Julia O’Neill, Gemma Hildred, Adrianne Laird and Hayley Pollard. 

Stephen’s brother David, sister-in-law Barbara, and niece Sophie Johnson attended the wedding along with Cate and Cath.

Sheila said: “How the hospice organised things was amazing, especially arranging a harpist. And community fundraiser Leah Hutchinson made it extra special by singing Elton John’s ‘Our Song’.”

The service was conducted by registrars Michael Binns and Cathy Scriunana.

Over the years Clarets season-ticket holder Sheila has supported the hospice’s fundraising efforts by being sponsored on three Midnight Walks.

She said: “When you see how the hospice cares for a loved one you realise how important it is for people to support its events and raise as much money as possible.”