A COUPLE celebrated their diamond anniversary two months early when they renewed their wedding vows in a special ceremony - after husband Ellis Coakley was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
The 84-year-old former plumbing engineer proposed the idea to wife Ellen, aged 82, after being diagnosed last summer.
The ceremony, which took place at Farnworth Care Home, was attended by Mr and Mrs Coakley’s close family, and staff and residents from the home.
After the couple’s low-key ceremony in 1954, Mr Coakley says he was determined to give his wife the lavish ceremony she deserved this time around.
He added: “It was a great day, better than I expected. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The ceremony is what I have been building up to for quite a number of years, but I had never got round to it, so it was fantastic to see it finally happening.
“It was very emotional, especially with all the family there. I don’t know where I would be without them. Now I want to reach May 8 and celebrate the official anniversary.”
Mrs Coakley admitted she was shocked by her husband’s romantic gesture — especially as she does not normally like surprises.
She said: “It was a shock when Ellis sprung it on me, because I don’t like fuss.
“But I did not want to let anybody down and I wanted to do it for Ellis. I really enjoyed it.
“We have always been together for 60 years, always made sure each other was safe and sound. I’m very grateful for the support of the family during what has been a difficult time.
“I can’t fault any of them.”
The couple were married on May 8, 1954, at St Sebastian Church in Pendleton, Salford.
They have two daughters, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Their daughter Adrianne Hilton, aged 53, said of the ceremony: “There was a bit of apprehension at the beginning, because nobody knew how it was going to go, but it was a special day and everyone enjoyed it.”
Jacinta Hodgson, activities co-ordinator at the home, helped decorate it especially for the ceremony.
She said: “It was hard work, but I was determined to do it.
“I would have done anything to help.”
Mr and Mrs Coakley moved from Salford to Westhoughton 30 years ago, before moving to Over Hulton, where they lived for the last 18 years, before their move to Farnworth.