A bride-to-be forced to postpone her wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic is now in a desperate race to get married – so her terminally-ill dad can walk her down the aisle.
Mum-of-four Cat Ward was due to tie the knot to the ‘love of her life’ Tim Williams on August 26 when Covid-19 forced them to push the date back exactly a year.
But this month her family were given the devastating news that her dad, Ron Ward, only has six to 12 months to live if he responds to treatment after being struck down with leukaemia.
Now the couple are hastily rearranging their big day to January 6 to give 80-year-old Ron the best possible chance of being able to give his daughter away.
In another blow for the family, HGV driver Tim, aged 33, has been made redundant from his job with Eddie Stobart, having previously been on furlough.
It means they are now struggling to meet the costs of the hastily-rescheduled nuptials at St Michael’s Church, in Stone, followed by a reception at the Upper House, in Barlaston.
Their loved-ones have set up a GoFundMe page to help ease the financial burden.
Cat, aged 28, who used to live in Fenton but now lives in Barlaston, said: “Originally we were happy for our wedding to be pushed back a year because we have a big family and wanted everyone there.
“We could never have imagined that my dad would be so ill. The earliest date that both venues have free is January 6 so we’re just hoping that dad responds to treatment. He has six, maybe 12 months at most.
“It would mean everything to have my dad walk me down the aisle and it means the world to him. I think it’s every little girl’s dream.
“I’m such a daddy’s girl and we have always been very close.
“When he is no longer here it would mean a lot if I can have that memory of him being there on the biggest day of my life.”
Despite suffering from a heart condition and dementia, Ron, who is from Burslem but now lives in Fair Oak, near Eccleshall, with his wife Joy, had been in good health up until lockdown.
Cat said: “He’s normally so fit, he loves pottering around the garden. He wasn’t feeling himself but put off seeing the doctor sooner because of the pandemic. He got an appointment and he was rushed off for tests.
“It was still such a shock to be told he had leukaemia. We’ve been told it will be a matter of weeks if he doesn’t respond to the chemotherapy.
“What makes it harder is that I’ve barely seen my parents through lockdown and we’d just started seeing him again.”
Cat met her fiance Tim on Facebook 10 years ago.
Despite the relationship getting off to a bumpy start when Tim was an hour later for their first date, they now have four daughters together – Poppy, aged four, Daisy, aged three, Holly, aged two and one-year-old Rosie.
And it was when Daisy was a newborn baby that Tim decided to pop the question.
Cat said: “I nearly gave up on him when he failed to turn up. I messaged him and told him I was going and he rang me up and begged me to stay. The rest is history.
“We were living in Fenton as Tim was at Staffordshire University at the time.
“We knew we wanted to start a family but for five years we struggled and I had three miscarriages. We didn’t think it would happen for us but then our four little girls have come in quick succession.”
Cat added: “Tim’s proposal was brilliant. He told me he was going to the shop with Poppy. When he came back he made it look like she had spaghetti all down her top.
“I was feeding the baby at the time and I was annoyed when he asked me to change the clothes but he kept saying he needed the loo.
“I pulled up her top and that’s when underneath I saw she was wearing a vest saying ‘Mummy, will you marry my Daddy?’. It was just lovely.
“That seems quite a long time ago now. We can’t wait to get married and we just hope that my dad can be there.”
The GoFundMe page has a target of £2,000 with any extra donations going to Macmillan Cancer Support and the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s cancer centre.
Cat said: “We were paying off the wedding with no issues and then coronavirus came and Tim lost his job. It was a real kick in the teeth.
“With us having to bring the date forward, it’s now tight so my sister set up the page.
“Unfortunately I can’t work at the moment as I have four children under four and the cost of childcare would mean I’d need to earn £2,000 a month to make it pay.
“Anything that’s not needed will be split equally between the charities.”
Tim had been working at Eddie Stobart for two years when he was made redundant a fortnight ago.
He said: “The financial strain of losing my job is an added pressure and then there is the strain of knowing that I have to get this wedding done. Originally I thought we had until August, 2021. I’m looking for jobs but they don’t just come out of nowhere.
“Ron is a likeable man. To have him walk Cat down the aisle would mean everything to us both. Her dad has been there for her for her whole life.”
Ron had been in remission for cancer when he received the bombshell diagnosis.
He said: “It came as a shock. I’m so very close to Cat, she means the world to me, and we have quite a special bond.
“To be able to walk her down the aisle would be a dream come true. If I feel how I do now then I should be able to manage it.
“It’s nice to think that people want to help us bring the wedding forward so I can be there too.”
To donate to the GoFundMe page, click here.