Groom dies hours after marrying partner of 25 years in hospital

A groom died hours after marrying with his long-term partner from his hospital bed. Bill Coney, 74, was receiving palliative care at Walsall Manor Hospital when he popped the question to Donna Clarke at 8.30pm on Monday, July 1.

Delighted Donna, 52, said 'yes' straight away and with the help of a supportive registrar applied for a special licence. The couple, who had been dating for a quarter of a century, married 48 hours later on July 3 in hospital with a cake and a toast.

Bill, a dad-of-six, died comfortably and peacefully at around 2.30pm the same day surrounded by his loving family.

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The pair, from Willenhall, met in a pub 27 years ago and Donna, who had four children with Bill, said she had always loved his generosity. "He always thought of others first, he was a kind man, wanting to help people if he could,” she said.

Bill, a former tree surgeon, had several health problems including interstitial lung disease and heart failure. After being admitted to hospital on June 27 with shortness of breath, his condition started to deteriorate rapidly.

Donna said: "The staff had been teasing him a bit about us being together so long and not getting married and he suddenly asked me – in typical Bill style he just said: “Do you want to get married?” And I said yes straight away, I didn’t leave him wondering !"

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Donna expressed her deep gratitude to the teams at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for helping them to get married, especially the support they received from Sarah Griffin, palliative care clinical nurse specialist.

Sarah added: “It was a pleasure to work with our Well Wishers charity to organise flowers, a cake and a toast to make Bill and Donna’s wedding wish come true at what was a difficult time for the family as Bill started to have end-of-life care on the ward.

"The Registrar also acted promptly to support us and apply for a special licence, and we appreciate her doing so. I am so sorry Donna became a bride and a widow in the same day but I’m also happy they were able to share some smiles together that day.

"Our condolences go out to the family as they try to come to terms with their loss.”