A terminally ill groom robbed of speech by cancer married his childhood sweetheart by squeezing her hand to say ‘I do’ before he died 11 days later.
William Kent, 24 married Emma, 25, at his hospital bedside despite not being able to speak or blink because of nerve damage caused by the illness.
For six months William, a teacher, fought the disease and would not let it ruin the moment he married Emma who he had proposed to three years ago on Valentine’s Day.
Instead of saying his vows, he squeezed the registrar’s hand before his father supported his hand so he could make a mark on the marriage register.
Family and friends from Ilkeston’s Ormiston Enterprise Academy, where William taught, crammed into the hospital room after being given just hours’ notice of the ceremony.
Nurses had told William’s family and Emma earlier that day that they could arrange for the wedding to happen to fulfil the couple’s wishes.
William died from lymphoma cancer 11 days after the whirlwind ceremony at Nottingham City Hospital on October 3.
Emma, who wore a blue dress for ceremony, said William loved life and was adored by everyone.
She said: ‘The squeeze of the hand was so tight, there was no doubt in my mind at all that he wanted to be married.
‘I rushed into town to buy wedding bands. They only stocked samples so I bought those.
‘The wedding meant absolutely everything and it was amazing, I think it spurred him on with the strength to keep going for another 11 days.
‘Everyone adored William, he made friends with everyone he met and he had a huge group of friends.
‘He’d always act the fool and would spoil a couple of photos pulling faces. We first met properly in art classes at sixth form, we started talking and then went to a pub quiz together.
‘William was really excited about everything, it was infectious his sense of joy at life, he was a cheeky chappy.’
Emma said after a first round of treatment following the diagnosis in April William took her to eat out almost every night to build up his strength.
She said: ‘When he came out we just ate out everywhere, he wanted to go out and eat. I have never been to so many restaurants in such a short space of time – Chiquitos, Pizza Hut, KFC, everywhere, so he could build his strength up for his next round of chemo.’
Emma and William met at school as children but it was not until the they were in sixth form that they started dating.
While William went to Leeds Metropolitan to study a degree in IT, Emma went to Lincoln to study illustration.
They stayed together and after they graduated, they saved up to buy their first house together in Derby.