A brave bride paid her terminally ill husband a touching tribute by shaving off her hair on her wedding night.
Joan Lyons, 44, from Huyton, Liverpool, opted to shed her locks as she wed childhood sweetheart Craig, also 44, in a tear-jerking ceremony at the city’s Isla Gladstone on Friday.
Romantic Craig, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, confessed his love for Joan while aboard a ferry on the River Mersey 18 months ago.
And the couple, who had been friends since first meeting aged 14, opted to bring their wedding plans forward after Craig learned that a tumour on his main pancreatic aorta was inoperable.
Both Craig and Joan, who is one of the co-founders of dementia support project Memory Lane, generously decided to use their big day as a fundraiser for charity – supporting Macmillan Cancer Support, Zoé’s Place hospice and Woodlands Hospice.
The couple have raised £2,700 so far with Joan deciding to let close friend Amy Walsh and Craig’s barber shave her hair while the song Ferry Across the Mersey was played on saxophone in the venue in a nod to the pair’s beginnings as a couple.
And Craig paid tribute to his brave bride for the unusual wedding night.
Craig said: “It was the obviously the first time I had seen Joan without her hair and she looked beautiful, absolutely stunning.
“I fell in love with her as soon as I set my eyes on her when we were 14.
“I was a bit shy about it and Joan has been married previously but it has always been about Joan for me – she is the woman of my dreams.
“It was a great ceremony and we always had plans to marry but had to move it forward because I’m not sure how long I have left.
“The idea just came from us both really and Joan’s hair will be platted and made into wigs for girls who need them.”
Marriage charity Gift of a Wedding helped attract a number of businesses to support the charitable ceremony after sharing a plea for help online.
And the couple auctioned off Everton and Liverpool football memorabilia as well as merchandise from the Liverpool boxing circuit to boost their fundraising.
There was also a tribute to the people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster as Craig and Joan marked the 27th anniversary of the tragedy by releasing 96 balloons.
Craig said: “The response we have had was fantastic and we have still got donations flooding in.
“Joan is a woman with a really big heart and it was no surprise that she wanted to help raise money with her big day.
“We really want to raise awareness of the disease too because it is quite rare for me to get it in my forties, people usually get it in their sixties.
“And we had to release the 96 balloons to the honour the Hillsborough victims because that is a cause that is very close to my heart.”
Wedding photographer Kimberley Struth, who has been running Struth Photography with husband Anthony for three years in Crosby, Merseyside, offered to shoot the ceremony after being moved by the couple’s plans.
Kimberley said: “It was a happy and emotional ceremony and you went from happy to emotional from one moment to the next all the way through.
“I expected the ceremony to be quite sad but it wasn’t at all and, in fact, it was one of the happiest weddings that I have ever had the pleasure of shooting.”
Patricia Harrison, founder and chair of Gift of a Wedding, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to create Craig and Joan’s wedding.
“They are a lovely couple and it was a nice touch that they decided to make their wedding a fundraiser too. That is really admirable.”
Donations to Craig and Joan’s fundraising efforts can be made here: http://www.justgiving.com/teams/joanbest.