Tears have turned to joy for a heartbroken couple who found new love after first meeting while they were both mourning the loss of their much-loved partners.
John Berry was reeling from the death of his wife Laura and Jane Adamson-Berry was devastated by the death of her husband Adam.
But when the pair turned to a bereavement group for support they surprised themselves by finding love once more - with each other.
“I sensed a spark which was more than just friendship,” said Jane, and John, from Ashington, added: “Something just clicked.”
And now, two years after that fateful meeting, the couple have tied the knot. They were married at St Mary’s House in Bramber - and, instead of wedding gifts, asked guests to make a donation to St Barnabas House, Worthing, which had cared for their partners before their deaths.
Jane, who previously lived in Lancing, was herself diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2007 and her husband Adam underwent treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma three years later.
“Adam gave up work to care for me following surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and I strongly believe that he played a major role in my recovery.
“By 2010 I was well enough to care for him, supported by our children, until he lost his battle for life in January 2013.”
Meanwhile, John’s wife Laura was diagnosed with lung, cerebral and bone cancer in August 2013 and died at St Barnabas House four months later. “I was devastated. I didn’t want to do much, and I couldn’t sleep,” said John.
Both sought support from the St Barnabas House Bereavement Group in 2015.”From the moment I met John, I knew he was special. He made me laugh to such an extent that I went home and told my children he would be perfect for me,” said Jane.
John added: “On our first date she told me all about the effect of her surgery and treatment. She was so brave telling me. It didn’t make any difference, I had just fallen in love with her.”
He added: “We spent a year planning our marriage and decided that instead of wedding gifts - who wants 90 toasters? - we should ask our guests to donate to St Barnabas House, should they wish. Through the generosity of relatives and friends, £2,300 was raised.
“Over 80 people attended the marriage ceremony with a further 100 at the reception. Jane looked like a princess and she will tell everyone that she had a fairytale wedding. Even the weather was perfect.”
St Barnabas fundraising manager Wendy Bardsley said: “We are so grateful for John and Jane for their donation. It costs over £6 million a year to provide all of our care services and every donation we receive makes a big difference.
“John and Jane’s donation is enough to pay for nine sessions of our Bereavement Group for those who have lost a loved one cared for by the hospice.”