80-year-old walks daughter-in-law down aisle at Chichester hospital wedding

Staff at a Chichester hospital helped make an 80-year-old patient’s wish come true last week when he helped walk his daughter-in-law down the aisle on her wedding day last week.

Peter Oates, who lives in Canning Road, Felpham, with his wife Jo, 82, was admitted to St Richard’s Hospital on New Year’s Day after vomiting blood, and he was put on end-of-life care two weeks ago after his condition deteriorated.

Despite not being expected to make it through the night, Peter surprised doctors and nurses on Fisbourne ward and improved overnight.

Last Saturday, Peter told his soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Samantha, that he would love to see her marry his son, Chris, and walk her down the aisle.

Samantha Oates is walked down the aisle on Fisbourne ward by her father-in-law Peter and son Steven - Picture by Tobias Key Photography

Samantha, 41, sprung into action and proposed to Chris, 45, and they set about organising the wedding in a side room on the ward, which hospital staff helped decorate for the special day last Wednesday.

Luckily for the bride, a healthcare assistant at St Richard’s had an unused wedding dress which she donated to Samantha: “I tried it on for the first time in the room I got married in and it fit!”

Chris and Samantha, a mechanic and accountant who live in Red Barn Crescent, Felpham, also picked out their engagement and wedding rings at a jewellers, and Chris got down on one knee in the shop to propose properly.

Samantha also wanted a photographer to capture the day, but struggled to find one at such short notice.

The wedding party at St Richard's Hospital last Wednesday - Picture by Tobias Key Photography

She said: “We had a couple of friends who we asked but they were not free. On the morning of the wedding I was in the bath thinking about photographs so I Googled photographers in Chichester and started ringing each number. The first three didn’t answer, but the fourth did and amazingly he could come – and got the photographs to me the very next day!”

Samantha’s son Steven, 20, gave his mum away at the wedding, while Chris’ son Vinnie, 9, was his dad’s best man and the ring bearer.

Peter, who was a manager at Butlin’s for 25 years, moved to Bognor Regis in 1974 as part of resort’s head office relocation.

He said: “I was delighted that Chris and Sam decided to marry, and very quickly. On Monday arrangements had been made to marry on Wednesday. The big day came and I had my dream of walking Sam down the aisle, albeit in a wheelchair! The wedding itself was marvellous, improving my wellbeing beyond measure. Behind the scenes all the staff were amazing and I cannot thank everyone enough.”

Samantha said: “The day itself was just magical words cannot describe the emotions we all felt.”

Samantha has now set up a fundraiser on Facebook to raise money to buy new reclining chairs for the six side rooms on Fishbourne ward as a thank you to staff at St Richard’s.

To find out more and donate, visit the Fishbourne Ward St Richard’s Hospital fundraising page on Facebook.