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.”