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Terminally-ill ex-regional daily journalist marries partner in secret

A terminally-ill former regional daily journalist has married his long-term partner in a secret ceremony.

Neil Farnworth, who worked as a sports reporter and sub-editor at the Lancashire Evening Post, decided to pop the question to Eileen Marsh after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer “out of the blue.”

The shock spurred Neil, 75, who lost his first wife in her 40s, to marry Eileen in order to give her some security in law after his death.

The couple, who have been together for 24 years, met at the rest home Eileen, now 69, worked at during a campaign the LEP was running to fund new medical equipment.

Said Neil: “The diagnosis came out of the blue. At Christmas everything was OK, or we thought it was.

“Then I developed a persistent cough and I wanted to find out if everything was OK. The doctors were concerned it was terminal lung cancer, so I had to go for all these scans and injections.”

The couple married at Preston Registry Office before inviting friends to a pub in the city to tell them their surprise news.

Neil added: “I’d lived with Eileen for a number of years, but before I became ill, getting married was never my top priority.

“We’d both been married before – my wife died in her 40s and Eileen is divorced, but then I realised she wasn’t as well protected in law because we weren’t married.

“Eileen told me she was going to propose to me because it was a Leap Year, and I was going to do something pretty similar. We went to the registry office to tell them I was poorly and we wanted to get married as soon as possible.

“They said it would be 28 days unless we were prepared to pay, and then certain things could be overcome, so that’s what we did. But I had to take in a letter from my consultant to prove it wasn’t any kind of scam.”

Neil said he has been excited despite feeling “pretty grotty”, admitted most of the organising has been done by Eileen.

He told his former employer: “I’ve been a widower a long time and you get used to it, but at the end of the day, you do get lonely and I preferred being in a relationship to not.

“Eileen has a saintly touch about her. Everybody loves her and I feel very lucky to have her. I love her to bits and she’s earned this.

“The punchline is, I’ll be spending my honeymoon at the chemotherapy department at Rosemere. But getting better is the priority.”


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  • March 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    @David Sharman
    David, on my first day as a reporter, many moons ago, I was walking along a corridor, minding my own business, when a passing sub-editor roughly pinned me against the wall and, through whiskey fumes, pressed his face against mine and said: “Listen here, laddie. It’s a register office, and allus will be, let’s ha’ none o ye registry office nonsense.” His voice had a hint of physical violence about it and as he spoke, the curled ash from the end of his burning tab dropped onto my kipper tie and rolled away. I now pass this sage advice onto you.

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  • March 14, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Sorry to hear this sad news. But there is no such thing as a Registry Office. It is a Register Office. If I had a pound for the number of times I corrected this in my career then I would be a rich man. David, don’t make this mistake again, please. It’s bad for my blood pressure

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  • March 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Let me see if I’ve go this right: Neil Farnworth – comp turned journo, sometime travelling musician and top bloke – goes public with worst personal news anyone could have and a pair of twits come on here to debate register v. registry office – as if anyone gives a toss. Then the same people wonder why circulations are in freefall…

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