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Oxfordshire couple remember their marriage at the JR 40 years after


It’s always lovely when people in our community share their memories of our hospitals, and the important part they have played in their lives.

So we were thrilled to receive an email from Annette and Geoff, from Didcot telling us about a very special day.

When Geoff had a serious accident in February 1983, the last thing Annette wanted to do was to delay their wedding, in fact, she wanted it to happen earlier so he would come home, and she could take care of him.  She made the team responsible for Geoff’s care aware of her plans and they were very supportive and swung into action. 

To enable the wedding to happen quickly in the hospital, Geoff had to get a written note from his consultant which stated he was fully aware of what he was doing even though he was in the hospital, and Annette had to do same. She also had to get a special wedding licence to enable them get married in the chapel of the John Radcliffe Hospital. 

Geoff and Annette got married on 12 March 1983 and had their reception in the Blue area of the hospital. The hospital catering team provided a buffet for the newlyweds and Geoff was named the Groom of the week on BBC Radio Oxford . It was a spectacular ceremony, but Annette had to leave her husband that night and return home by herself so that he could continue to receive care. 40 years on, Geoff and Annette are still going strong and are grateful for the care they received back in 1983, as well as the support given to them to enable their very special wedding. 

Even during the toughest of times, special celebrations take place in our hospitals. The Chaplaincy team of the Trust work with Oxford Hospitals Charity to give help to those who are at their end of life and cannot leave the hospital to get married in the hospital and to make it a very special day.

In very special circumstances, when a very seriously ill patient who is not expected to recover, and cannot be moved from the hospital to a place registered for marriage wants to get married, they can get a special letter from their doctor, after which a ceremony can usually be organised helping to make a special event for the couple.

Our hospital charity has created 12 beautiful wedding boxes which contain a ring cushion, champagne flutes, confetti, a beautiful card, garlands, balloons and bunting, and a keepsake box which will be given to these special people who are tying the knot. 

And the wonderful chaplains work incredibly hard to create a ceremony that is thoughtful, meaningful and a happy occasion for the couple.

Rev’d Sarah Sewell, Lead Chaplain, Oxford University Hospitals, said: "It was really touching to hear Annette and Geoff’s happy memories. We do our very best to help patients at their end of life to create those same happy memories. We have been particularly grateful for and delighted with the enthusiastic support of Oxford Hospitals Charity in providing the wedding boxes, a Chaplaincy initiative led by one of the Team, the Rev’d Cara Heafey."

Annette and Geoff Smith said: "We are very grateful to have been able to celebrate our special moment at the John Radcliffe Hospital. It was a vulnerable time for Geoff, but the wonderful nurses and members of the Chaplaincy team made the day beautiful for us as we began our journey to forever. I was unhappy leaving my newlywed husband in hospital on our wedding night tucked in by the nurses. 40 years after, we are still outpatients of the JR and we are proud of the excellent care we always receive."