A YOUNG bridegroom-to-be who is desperate to marry his fiancee before he goes blind has won a dream wedding.
Steven Howarth was born with bad eyesight and, despite pioneering treatment six years ago to save his vision, still faces losing his sight altogether.
He and bride-to-be Sarah Hardy would have had to save for years to marry at the venue of choice, the Cresta Court Hotel in Altrincham.
Now, they have pencilled in a wedding date for 12 months from now, after they topped topped the public vote in a competition run by the hotel to win a free wedding.
If all goes to plan, Mr Howarth will be able to enjoy his wedding next year on May 22.
Mr Howarth, who was born in Jersey but brought up in Westhoughton, said: “It was a big surprise and I’m getting a bit nervous now thinking about it.
“My mum was in tears, she was so happy.”
Miss Hardy added: “I could not quite believe it. Steve said to me ‘Why not, we’ve got as good a chance as any’ and we did.”
The couple, both aged 24, have already drawn up a guest list, with 60 invited to the service and 100 to the evening reception.
Mr Howarth was born with a rare inherited condition, which left him with poor vision and unable to see in the dark.
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In 2008, aged 18, he went to Moorfields Hospital in London to take part in a clinical trial where doctors injected healthy genes into his eyes to correct the faults. This made a big difference initially, but his eyesight has since deteriorated again.
His condition, Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA), affects about one in 100,000 people. If Mr Howarth has any children, there is a strong possibility they will also suffer from it.
His delighted mum, Adalaida, said: “I was hoping they would get it, but it was still a shock when I found out that he had won.
“You just don’t think you can be that lucky. It was a nice presentation and a lot of the family were there, which was very good.”
As well as the wedding reception at Cresta, the happy couple also won a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of flowers.
Mr Howarth and Miss Hardy’s love story began two years ago after they started talking online and they “clicked” straight away when they eventually met up in Manchester.