89-year-old Aileen Sharples was delighted to enjoy a front row view of her son’s Gloucestershire wedding from the comfort of her home, thanks to the dedication and ingenuity of staff at the Belong Wigan community care village, on Millers Lane, where she lives.
Overjoyed for her son, Paul, on his ‘big day’, Aileen was nevertheless disappointed that she would not be able to attend the ceremony and watch the happy couple exchange their vows. Learning of this, Belong staff quickly stepped in, making arrangements for a second wedding to be simultaneously held at the village, linking the two events using an iPad and FaceTime.
It was a truly special occasion, with flowers and decorations in abundance, and staff and residents dressing in their Sunday best – complete with fascinators and feather hats. Everyone gathered around Aileen as she watched the ceremony take place, and then joined her afterwards for a champagne toast and slice of wedding cake.
Once the wedding was over, Aileen spoke to Paul and her new daughter-in-law, Julia, using FaceTime to wish them both congratulations and a wonderful honeymoon. All three then smiled for a photograph together (pictured), taken by one of the Belong staff.
Aileen later remarked: “I’m so happy I was able to take part in the occasion and watch Paul and Julia as they walked down the aisle. Julia looked beautiful and I was very happy for them both. It’s lovely that I have a photo of us to remember the day by.”
Everyone at Belong was delighted for Aileen and said how much they enjoyed taking part. The occasion sparked conversations and reminiscences among all those involved, who enjoyed recalling their own memories of weddings they had attended in the past.
Belong Experience Coordinator, Marie Calderbank, commented: “At Belong we make it our business to always go the extra mile. This is our second interactive wedding at Wigan and staff really pulled out all the stops to make it a success. It was lovely to see Aileen’s face light up as soon as it all began.”