DESPITE the coronavirus lockdown love found a way for a doting couple who married at their Prestatyn home.

Derek Bond, 69, and Barbara, 80, were able to have their fairytale wedding on May 31 in their garden after being granted a Special Marriage Licence by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

About 50 guests tuned in via Zoom to watch the couple exchange their vows.

The service was conducted by Reverend David Ash.

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Reverend David Ash sets up the zoom video link. Picture: Phil Micheu

Barbara’s son Michael walked Barbara down the aisle, daughter Hilary read a prayer and daughter Jane acted as ring bearer.

The couple were permitted to have an officiant priest and legal witnesses and had been granted a special licence due to Barbara’s illness. Barbara has terminal cancer and was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma last year.

Barbara, whose maiden name is Boylan, is a long-term member of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Prestatyn (Church in Wales).

She said: “We were very excited of course and nervous. We kept checking everything.

"It went like clockwork and we didn’t have to do a thing.

"They have been so generous and so loving my church.”

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Chatting to the guests over the video link. Picture: Phil Micheu

The newlyweds have been together for two and a half years after meeting about three years ago on a Voel Coach trip.

Barbara said: “Derek is so kind, so loving, nothing is too much trouble for him.

"I think someone was looking down on me. I think the Lord sent him to me and said ‘you are suppose to be together’

“I love him to bits and that will never change, come what may.

“He is my life.

“We love each other deeply - two hearts, one love.”

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The congregation of family and friends join in the wedding ceremony via Zoom video link .Picture: Phil Micheu

Derek said: “She is the most beautiful person inside and outside that I have every known.

“I absolutely adore her.”

Barbara and Derek met on a coach trip to Bridgemere Garden Centre and antiques.

“The strange thing is that we had both been on Voel coaches, the same coach trips, and never met,” Barbara said.

“This time we actually sat next to each other. Seat three and four I think it was.

“He gave me this lovely big smile and said ‘hello I’m Derek’ and I said ‘hello I’m Barbara.’

“We talked all the way.

“We said cheerio and went our separate ways after the trip and then sometime later, we bumped into each other in Marks & Spencer.

“Our first kiss was in Marks & Spencer. I was taken by surprise,

“It was ‘hello, lovely to see you’ and I got a big hug and a kiss.

“Haggling over the macaroni cheese,” Barbara fondly recalled.

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Barbara and Derek exchange rings as they are married at the home in Prestatyn. Picture: Phil Micheu

“We owe a lot to Voel.

“We just clicked. I know it sounds silly but sometimes we talk and we finish each others sentences.

“We are so compatible and so together. I have never met anyone like him.”

Barbara, who had been a widow for more than 20 years, had previously recovered from cancer but now has secondaries that are ‘far more aggressive’.

David, who has two brothers and a sister, has never been married.

The couple had wanted to marry but were unable to make arrangements before the lockdown.

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Barbara and Derek with Barbara's children Michael, Hilary and Jane. Picture: Phil Micheu

Keen to hasten up plans, the couple were delighted when granted the special licence which allows a marriage to take place in a house.

Church family members made wedding cakes, produced a service sheet, and decorated the front of the house on the day whilst Powells the Jewellers helped with wedding rings.

Barbara said: “Earlier on the wedding day, two people from our church came round. They had hired blossom trees, they stood two out on the front, and an archway and postbox. We had 53 cards - we don’t get that many at Christmas!

“Our church people had attached little hearts [to the blossom trees] and everybody had written something on them.”

Talking about seeing the guests ‘virtually’ and all the people involved in the wedding, Barbara said: “When we counted everybody on screen, there was 25 little squares and mostly two people in most squares.

“We had eight in the back garden. Five across the road. More neighbours further down the road.

“Everyone just wanted to get involved.

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Friends and neighbours keep to social distancing in the back garden during the wedding ceremony. Picture: Phil Micheu

“It was overwhelming. I was in tears.

"I thought - 'oh my mascara is going to run!'

"It was amazing seeing all the faces on the screen, waving.

"My church also supplied afternoon tea for all of us - three witnesses and for Derek and myself which was lovely

"We were also awash with champagne and brandy. Brandy is my favourite. I do love a drop of brandy!"

After the wedding day, Derek said he woke up, pinched himself and ‘couldn’t believe it’.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” he added.

Reverend Ash said: “It was because the Hematology department told Barbara she has a prognosis of months that we were able to arrange for a Special Marriage Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faculty Office in Westminster. Church weddings can’t otherwise occur because the buildings are not open and it is also not possible to call banns of marriage in public worship.

“The licence stipulated that the ceremony could take place at the bride’s home, but it had to be indoors, so even though it was a wonderfully sunny day we had to hold the wedding inside.

“Legally there could only be the bride and groom, the priest and the witnesses present and the only way we could think of allowing any other family and friends to attend was through the virtual world of Zoom. Having only attended Zoom meetings a couple of times during the previous few weeks and hosted a small singing practice meeting to try and work out what worked best for the attendees, it was rather a baptism by fire to have the screen full of the guests who managed to join us.

“I was absolutely delighted to be able to help make this wedding happen. I was juggling both the technical hosting, using my own desktop computer because it had a large screen, and conducting the wedding. I was initially just trying to make sure I didn’t leave anyone in the Zoom waiting room!

“When the opening music, chosen by the couple - The ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ by Handel - was playing, I was able to transpose a virtual background of the interior of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Prestatyn where the couple had originally hoped to be married a few months later.

“That background was soon dropped to reveal the couple sitting on a sofa, with me perched on the end of a coffee table and the witnesses in the doorway to the kitchen.

"Barbara had a full service complete with a reading from the Song of Songs, which is a section of love poetry in the Bible and it included the words ‘love is as strong as death’ [Chapter 8:6].

“Normally other people handle anything technical for me, so I can focus on the content of the service and respond to the mood of the couple and their guests, but with this wedding everybody was just so delighted to get such a front seat on proceedings that they didn’t mind the occasional frozen screen whilst the system rebooted," reverend Ash added.

“God was very much in that wedding.

"Barbara was feeling well and looked radiant. Derek was quite overcome too by the support of so many in making their special day fairly unique.

“Their family supported them, the church supported them and it seemed like the whole of Tower Gardens Estate supported them with a succession of deliveries of flowers, cards and good wishes.

“The pandemic of 2020 certainly spawned an irrepressible outbreak of good neighbourliness and human compassion and this wedding has been a fine example of that.

“I credit a divine hand with recycling the ingredients of ‘dreadful’ into the fruit of ‘awesome’, but however you credit it, it was something touching and beautiful that will be cherished by all.”