Dying man will get wedding of dreams thanks to mystery benefactor
A DYING man and his fiancee will get the wedding of their dreams thanks to a mystery benefactor and a host of Plymouth businesses.
A kind-hearted woman, who wants to remain anonymous, took it upon herself to organise the wedding after reading The Herald's heartbreaking story of Stephen May, who has been given just two years to live.
The 27-year-old and his fiancee Rachel Joce, from Keyham, today said it was the "best Christmas present ever."
The Herald reported on Thursday that father-of-two Stephen had been given just two years to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in October.
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Despite the devastation, Stephen and Rachel, who got engaged on Christmas Day in 2006, said one of their first priorities was to get married – but that they didn't have much money to pay for a wedding.
After reading Stephen's story in the paper one city resident decided to make their dream day a reality and has inspired a number of local businesses to donate their services free of charge to give the couple a day they will never forget.
Rachel, who gave birth to the couple's second child Evie just five weeks ago, said: "I'm in shock and totally overwhelmed. I can't believe people's generosity.
"When we found out Stephen's prognosis getting married became a priority to us both.
"Having our whole wedding planned and sorted for us is the best Christmas present I've ever had. Getting married to Stephen means everything to me."
The mysterious benefactor has sorted everything for a perfect day including a popular venue, wedding cake, hair and make-up for the bride, flowers, dresses for the bride and bridesmaid, and one of the most sought-after wedding photographers in the South West.
Stephen said: "I can't believe what this lady has done for us – she's like my real life fairy godmother.
"I feel almost embarrassed accepting things from people, a little bit awkward, but we are both just so grateful.
"The support I've had from everyone since the story came out has been brilliant. I've had old school friends messaging me saying they want to start fundraising and loads of lovely messages from people. Saying thank you just isn't enough."
The couple, who have two daughters five-year-old Ella and five-week-old Evie, are now hoping to tie the knot at the beginning of March.
Stephen's mum Raz said a "weight had been lifted" since finding out the couple could finally get married.
"My husband Gary and I were freaking out when we started looking at the cost of weddings," she said.
"It really scared me because it's Stephen's biggest wish and I didn't know how we'd afford it.
"It's so lovely they'll finally be one whole unit. This lady doesn't realise just what she's done for us."
But the unnamed benefactor told The Herald that she had done nothing but make a few calls.
She said: "It's other people offering their services and giving up their time – I just asked.
"When I read in the paper that Stephen's two last wishes were to get married and take his children to Disneyland Paris I thought trying to organise the wedding was the least I could do. They are not extraordinary things to ask for. People take these things for granted all the time."
Stephen was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour at the end of October, a month before the birth of his second daughter Evie.
Two weeks after Evie was born he was told he probably had about two years left to live.
Having suffered with severe headaches in the summer, Stephen and his family are now coming to terms with the fact that the golf ball-sized tumour on the front of his brain will always come back, despite being removed.
Rachel said: "Getting married to Stephen is like a dream come true but the real dream would obviously be not having to do it in these circumstances."