Registrars don PPE to let terminally ill man get married during lockdown

Wedding officials donned PPE to marry a couple in their own home and fulfil the ambition of the terminally ill groom.

Christine Meaney and Desmond Codona were given special permission to marry at their home in Hemlington, Middlesbrough, two days after the family contacted the local council’s registrar team.

Mr Codona, 59, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told in April that he could only have weeks left to live.

During the lockdown he told their children he had always wanted to marry their mother, but the time had never been right, so daughter Suzi contacted Middlesbrough Council’s principal registrar Dawn Galloway.

Weddings are currently suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, but after a risk assessment it was decided emergency powers could be used to make the couple’s dream come true.

Sarah Teece and Dawn Galloway
Sarah Teece and Dawn Galloway

On Thursday April 30, with the legal paperwork done, the registrar and her deputy Sarah Teece attended the Hemlington home in plastic gowns and visors and married the couple.

The 60-year-old bride said: “They were absolutely exceptional.

“I know it’s a cliche but they put their lives on the line to do something really good and kind. We are over the moon that they could do it.

“Des has always wanted us to be married but the time has never been right.

“He had been talking to our children Suzi, Michael and Katie… and Suzi got in touch with Dawn and it spiralled pretty quickly – that was on Tuesday and on Thursday we were married. It was very surreal.

“There was Dawn and Sarah and they were absolutely fantastic from start to finish.

“They made us feel really at ease and relaxed and it was the best we could possibly hope for.

“We are both on cloud nine. Des is absolutely buzzing, it has really given him a lift. It has really picked him up and that has made me feel a lot better. It’s given him a real boost.”

The groom added: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. The staff who came round were fantastic, really great.”

Ms Galloway said: “The applications we receive during the coronavirus lockdown for emergency weddings – called a Registrar General’s Licence – are being looked at individually on a case by case basis.

“In this instance, having spoken to the family and carried out a risk assessment we felt it was something we could do for them.

“They are a lovely family and a lovely couple and we are really pleased that we were able to grant this wish and make it happen for them.”