A woman with cerebral palsy is determined to get out of her motorised wheelchair to walk down the aisle to marry the sweetheart she met at the care home where they’re both residents.
Sian Walley, 45, is tying the knot with ex-plumber Steve Ferrier, 55, on Sunday, October 29, after the love struck pair fell head over heels for each other at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham.
In addition to cerebral palsy, Sian has epilepsy and has other medical issues while Steve suffered a heart attack and several strokes that have also left him as a permanent wheelchair user.
They became engaged on Valentine’s Day last year when Steve popped the question after staff prepared a romantic three-course meal for them in his room.
With the help of management and staff at Pendine Park, the happy couple now have a double bedroom and their own private lounge within Bryn Bella Care Home, a specialist facility for younger adults with physical disabilities, which means they can be supported while living life to the full as a married couple.
On the big day at the Ramada Hotel in Wrexham Sian will be walking down the aisle with the support of helpers.
She said: “Because of my condition it will be difficult. I can walk a few steps, even if it’s very slowly, so long as I have people either side to support me. Every bride wants to walk down the aisle to their man.
“I’m just so pleased we are able to get married. I thought when I had to move into a care home that was it. My life as such was over and I had nothing to look forward to. I never expected to find love again.”
She added: “The fact we can get married at all has been quite a difficult issue to resolve.
“We had lots of meetings with Pendine Park managers and our social workers and we thought if we were going to get married then we would have to move back and live in the community.
“I knew we would never cope if we had to do that. In the end we have been granted a shared room and our own lounge in Bryn Bella which is amazing. We couldn’t ask for more and couldn’t be happier.
“We will be able to live as a real married couple but still have the support we both need.”
Sian says they have had lots of help in organising their wedding and reception.
Sian added: “I never thought it would ever happen but my impossible dream is coming true. I have two bridesmaids, Catherine Olli, a friend who I met years ago, and Leah Pellegrini.
“Leah’s dad, Paul, used to support me and be my advocate. We are still close friends and in fact he is going to be Steve’s best man. He is going to help me walk down the aisle if I can.
“I’m so pleased with my wedding dress, which is ivory and Chris and Christine who work in the Pendine Park kitchens are making our wedding cake. We are going to the ceremony in a wedding car that is actually a converted camper van.
“Everyone at Bryn Bella and Pendine Park has been very supportive and we can’t thank them enough. We would never have managed on our own out in the community. However, we can now live as a married couple knowing we have the support we need.
“It just goes to show that moving into a care home isn’t the end of your life. For Steve and me it’s proved to be a whole new beginning.”
Steve says he’s getting excited as the big day gets nearer but admits the wedding has only been made possible due to the help of Pendine Park managers.
He said: “It’s amazing and I don’t know where the time has gone. It’s all happened quite quickly. My mum and sisters are coming over from Southport for the wedding which will make it even more special for me.
“Pendine Park, in fairness, has been amazing and having the opportunity to live together as a married couple is fantastic. It’s going to be a special day that’s for sure.
“We are very pleased with the Ramada Hotel too. They have been fantastic and really helped us. There will be quite a few of us in wheelchairs.
“We have invited a few residents, staff members and some people we are friendly with who come to Pendine Park for respite care.”
He added: “I can’t wait to see Sian in her wedding dress, which will be a really special moment.
Paul Pellegrini, a care support worker, has been a friend of Sian ever since he was assigned the task of helping her with her day to day finances and looking after her general well-being before she moved into Pendine Park.
He said: “We became close friends and I’m honoured to have been asked to be Steve’s best man. Of course I will also be helping Sian as she tries to walk down the aisle. Every bride wants to walk to her groom and Sian is no different.
“It’s fantastic they have been able to arrange their wedding and why shouldn’t they live happily together as a married couple? It’s amazing and as Sian points out, moving into care wasn’t the end of her life it’s an experience that has enriched it.”
Gill Hughes, a senior manager at Pendine Park, is delighted for Steve and Sian.
She said: “It’s nice to have a happy outcome and to see two people who are in love able to get married. It was important we came up with a solution that meant they could live together after their wedding.
“We are all delighted to have been able to support Sian and Steve as they prepare for their big day and hope they enjoy a long and happy marriage together.
“As a care organisation we can only offer our full support and at our premises in Caernarfon we have develop special companion living apartments precisely to ensure that couples can stay together if one of or both of them have care needs.
“Sian and Steve are the perfect example that moving into care isn’t the end of your life or your dreams. I really do wish them all the best for their future together.”