A Cardiff couple are celebrating life and love with a virtual ceremony for family and friends on what should have been their wedding day.
Anna-Louise Bates and Zachary Stubbings from Thornhill were planning to tie the knot in a lavish ceremony at Castell Coch, followed by a church blessing on 29th May, but the Coronavirus pandemic means the official wedding has been postponed until next year.
Instead, they shared a video service on YouTube with contributions from loved ones, the Priest would have officially blessed their marriage, and an actor who supports the charity Anna-Louise set up in memory of her late husband Stuart and son Fraser, who died in a tragic road accident in 2015.
Believe Organ Donation Support aims to educate and help spread the word on organ donation, support those people involved, and break down the taboo around organ donation to get people talking.
Anna-Louise said planning the wedding has been an emotional time, “When I went to talk to our priest, Father Irving, who was with me in the hospital, he said to me: ‘I always think it is the biggest compliment when someone who has lost someone they love gets married again. They have shown them what love is’. For me it is like another piece of my heart has grown for Zach.
“They are words that have really helped me. It has not been easy as I have a lot of guilt, but Fraser will always be my only son and I will always love Stuart and they will always be in my heart. This is just another part of my heart that I am giving to someone else.”
Father Irving has recorded a contribution for Anna-Louise and Zachary’s virtual celebration, along with Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones, a long-term supporter of Believe charity, and other close friends of the couple.
In lieu of wedding gifts, they are asking for donations to be made to Believe and Help for Heroes, who supported military veteran Zachary, when a cancer diagnosis led to him being medically discharged from the RAF.
He says, “I was an instructor at the time of diagnosis and had plans to further my career but then I had to get moved to lighter duties and was discharged in 2015. It was a huge knock.
“Help for Heroes has been amazing because they get the message across that ‘you can still do this’ and I have met lots of people in similar positions to me.
“They helped me regain my purpose and helped me to become the person I am today.”
His on-going health condition means the family is self-shielding, and Zachary can’t currently work in his role as a search and rescue helicopter crewman, but he and Anna-Louise know they can rely on support from Help for Heroes if they need it.
Shelley Elgin, Community Recovery Manager for Help for Heroes in Wales and Hereford, said “We are very grateful that Anna-Louise and Zachary are supporting us as part of their virtual wedding day celebrations. During lockdown, we are providing adapted services to armed forces personnel, and their loved ones, across the region.
“We’ve also developed mental health and wellbeing support, a Field Guide to Self-Care, in Welsh and English, for our key workers, which is available via our website. We couldn’t do this without the generous support of people like Anna-Louise and Zach. We wish them every happiness.”
To support their fundraising go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AnnaBates7