Dying woman getting married after Northern Ireland eases lockdown rules

Samantha Gamble was still in hospital when she learned her wedding could go ahead

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne, from County Down, had intended to get married at the end of May. Courtesy: Frankie Byrne Facebook
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A terminally ill woman is finally getting married today after lawmakers in Northern Ireland swept aside some coronavirus lockdown conditions for her.

Bride-to-be Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne, 54, had originally planned to get married in March but the wedding was cancelled because gatherings were banned as part of the wider coronavirus lockdown.

When Ms Gamble was admitted to hospital three weeks ago her fiance began fighting to lift the ban on weddings.

Last week, Northern Ireland’s senior politicians agreed to ease some restrictions, and weddings in which one partner was terminally ill would be in the first phase of the changes.

Ms Gamble, 53, from Loughbrickland, County Down, was diagnosed with soft cell sarcoma 18 months ago. Doctors had told her then that she had two years to live. She was still in hospital when she learned her wedding could go ahead.

"I cried, I couldn't believe it, I still can't believe it," she said.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. They'll never know what it means to us. They do have hearts."

She added: "I know the cancer has spread, it's into my lungs and into my spine and neck.

"I just take every day as it comes. I don't want them to say you've got such and such a time because I think that would just bring me down.

"Whereas, at the minute, I can just say I'm living each day as it comes and I'm thankful for breathing."

The couple have been together for 12 years had always intended to get married but her cancer diagnosis and treatment had disrupted their plans.

Ms Gamble also thanked her cancer nurses at the National Health Service, whose care has helped ensure she will see her wedding day.

While the ceremony on Friday can take place, coronavirus restrictions mean only six people, including the couple and the officiant, can attend.

Ms Gamble said her two children and a close friend of the groom will also be present. Others will join via a video link.