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Hospital helps 92-year-old Doris become virtual wedding guest

West Suffolk Hospital inpatient Doris Smith watches her daughter Mel get married via video link

A 92-year-old Bury St Edmunds mum watched her daughter get married from a hospital ward after NHS staff rallied round to arrange a video call – as well as hair, makeup and decorations.

Happy couple Mel and Sean Davidson have praised the efforts of West Suffolk Hospital staff in ensuring Doris, Mel’s mum, could be a part of their special day.

Doris Smith, a patient on the stroke ward at West Suffolk Hospital, came into the hospital’s care following a stroke in mid-May. She was concerned she was going to miss the wedding of Mel, and soon-to-be son-in-law, Sean ‘Fred’ Davidson.

With the special day due to be held on Friday, 18 June, the Keeping in Touch team – set up at the beginning of the pandemic to help loved ones ‘visit’ inpatients online – worked with Fred to organise a video call between the ward and St Mary’s Church in Ufford, Suffolk.

During the ceremony, Doris watched her daughter Mel, walk down the aisle to marry Fred Davidson, who both live in the village. Doris spoke to the Reverend Paul Hambling in front of the congregation and gave her consent for Mel and Fred to be married.

The stroke ward team arranged a wedding-themed display in a ward meeting room, as well as provided gifts and homemade cupcakes for Doris.

Daughter Mel said: “We would both like to extend our gratitude to the staff of the stroke ward and Keeping in Touch team who made this possible.

“It was obviously disappointing that my mum could not attend the day as she was not well enough, but what the staff did was the next best outcome, and is a memory that we will cherish forever.”

Maria Musgrove, ward manager on the stroke ward, said: “We were determined to make it a special day for Doris as we knew how much it would mean to her and her family.

”It was so heart-warming to see how happy Doris was when she saw our wedding display, and I felt extremely privileged reading to Doris the beautiful words Mel had written to her in a card.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Keeping in Touch team has hosted more than 5000 video calls between patients at West Suffolk Hospital, and friends and families, connecting people as far flung as New Zealand, Canada and Greece.

Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Being able to connect Doris, Mel and Fred on such an important day is a brilliant testament to the great work of our Keeping in Touch team

“With the cupcakes, the wedding display, and Doris’s hair and makeup, our stroke ward team has yet again gone above and beyond. They provide an innovative and personalised approach which has led to their stroke care being ranked among the best in the country.”