Man married 'woman of his dreams' at bedside hours before dying from cancer
PUBLISHED: 14:16 26 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:56 27 August 2019
A man described as "bubbly and so loving" got married to the "woman of his dreams" at his bedside just two hours before he died at a Norfolk hospital.
Jonathan 'Jonny' Thomas, 43, and from Great Yarmouth, died on August 21 at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston after a battle with cancer.
His mother Jane Soares said it had been his dream to marry "one in a million" student nurse Joanna, who he had been with for four years and met at the Marina Centre when he previously worked as a lifeguard.
Mrs Soares said: "He was diagnosed last October, he went through all the chemo, the radiation, he even travelled abroad. But it managed to get hold of him which unfortunately now leaves a wife behind, he's got a little boy as well and a step daughter, and loads of family and friends."
Staff at the JPUH jumped into action on Wednesday when Mr Thomas took a turn for the worse, knowing it was his final wish to get married.
The pair had planned to tie the knot next year but it had already been brought forward to September 14 when Mr Thomas found out how ill he was.
Mrs Soares said: "Everything was paid for, all his friends had sorted cars and flowers out. They had sorted everything.
"Now his funeral will be covered by these friends."
Mr Thomas was told the disease was terminal nine weeks before he died, and his mother said as they sat close to a pond at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) contemplating the news, Mr Thomas had said to her: "I've met the woman of my dreams, and now it's going to be taken away from me."
Mrs Soares said when she visited her son on the morning of August 21, she could tell something had changed to due to her 10 years working in care.
"On the Wednesday morning we knew it was not long and that's when the hospital kicked into action," she said.
"When Joanna came to the hospital that day she had brought the rings with her anyway to make sure they fit."
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A registrar was rushed from Dereham and Mrs Soares said the couple were married at Mr Thomas's bedside before he was wheeled in his bed to the hospital chapel for a celebration, where the pair exchanged rings.
She said: "One of his friends rushed from home with a white shirt, he said 'he's not getting married in a hospital gown'."
Mr Thomas, a former Great Yarmouth High School pupil, was a Liverpool fan and You'll Never Walk Alone - the club's anthem - was played at the service, where his mother said he got "a second burst of life".
Mr Thomas' sister Sophia, who was in Skegness at the time, was being rushed back to Norfolk by her brother's friend Lekon and managed to video call her family to ensure she saw everything.
Mrs Soares said: "It was about an hour and a half to two hours after the ceremony that he died. He died happy. He got his last wish. His wish was to get married and he beat his friends to it."
Mrs Soares said she was in "disbelief" at how the hospital managed to arrange the wedding and the support of Mr Thomas' friends.
"You could not ask for more, it was amazing," she said. "
Remembering her son, who was a sales representative at the Wild Duck Holiday Park in Belton, Mrs Soares said: "He was very close to his sister Sophia, she made the journey with him, every day from day one.
"He was very bubbly and so loving. He was like the Pied Piper with children and he would help anyone out if he could.
"He was positive all the way through, he was going to find a cure, he was going to beat it, it was not going to beat him. But in the end he couldn't. The main thing he wanted was to get married."
Mrs Soares said: "He was a good laugh, he liked a good party, he was a party animal."
She said Mrs Thomas had been "amazing" and added: "Many a girl would have just run off, but the things she's had to put up with."
But she said the whole family and his friends had pulled together, including his son Harlie, 16, who passed all his GCSEs on Thursday despite having taken his exams during his father's treatment.
Mr Thomas' nephew Jonathan also passed his exams.