Southport hospital marked its second marriage ceremony of the year when a Formby couple wed on Ward 15A – with TV presenter Aled Jones as their special guest.
Patient Frank Heath, 72, and Kate Hart, 69, had planned a small wedding in the ward day room but it quickly became a TV event when they agreed to let the BBC’s Songs of Praise film their special day.
A team from the long-running religious television programme was following the work of the Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust chaplain, the Rev Martin Abrams, when he was asked to conduct the wedding service.
Staff joined family, friends and Aled Jones to watch the happy couple take their vows in a ceremony made possible at short notice by Sefton registrars at Southport Register Office.
Among the guests was John Smits, from Hull, who served in the Army with Frank in Aden (the former British colony now part of Yemen) in the mid-Sixties. John tracked him down through the Aden Veterans’ Association and it was the first time they had met since their Army days 49 years ago.
The wedding was the second to be held at the hospital this year. In January, a patient at the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre married her partner in a civil ceremony.
The Rev Martin Abrams said: “The service was a wonderful, happy day for everyone concerned. It may have been our second wedding this year but is very unusual for patients to marry while they’re in hospital. It was just luck that Songs of Praise happened to be here last week.
“I want to thank Kate and Frank for allowing us to share their wedding day as well as staff from across the Trust who pulled out the stops to make it so very special for them. They are truly a lovely and remarkable couple.”
Writing on Twitter, Aled Jones added: “Had the most incredible humbling day @SONHStrust – wonderful staff and patients and an honour to spend time with Kate and Frank – xx.”
Flowers for the wedding were provided at no cost by June the Florist of Birkdale.
The episode of Songs of Praise featuring Kate, Frank, staff talking about their faith and the work of the chaplain is due to air on BBC1 on Sunday.
Issued by Kimberley Rushton, Senior Communications and Marketing Officer
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
Telephone 01704 705061
Notes for editors
1. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust manages Southport and Formby District General Hospital and Ormskirk and District General Hospital, and is responsible for many community healthcare services for adults in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire. We also provide sexual health services across the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. The North West Regional Spinal Injuries is hosted by the Trust from Southport hospital.
2. Songs of Praise, the longest running religious television programme in the world, was first seen and heard on 1st October 1961. The programme showcases the best of congregational hymn singing up and down the land. It has been presented by Bangor-born Aled Jones since 2004.