THEY had invited friends and family to the mediaeval-style christening of their son Michael Joseph.

But the guests were amazed when Denise Kelly and Mick Howarth surprised them all - and got married, too.

The double celebration took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Farnworth on Saturday, starting with the christening of Michael Joseph.

Mum-of-three Mrs Howarth, whose elder son Nathan hit the headlines because he suffers from a rare blood disorder, said: "Mick and I have been together for 18 years and people have been saying for ages that we should get married, but we've had so much else to deal with we hadn't done it. We just decided to go ahead with it as a surprise.

"I couldn't look at anyone when I was walking down the aisle, but it was everything I dreamed it would be. Before the ceremony, Mick told my dad what we were planning to do and he burst into tears. My son, Nathan, just couldn't believe it either."

The wedding, which also had a mediaeval theme, then moved to the Irish Centre in Lever Street, Farnworth, where guests tucked into a banquet of ham, bread and pies before being entertained by a magician and a wizard.

They then partied into the small hours.

Mrs Howarth said: "We even had a wedding cake with a difference. In mediaeval times, guests each brought an individual cake, but we reversed that and gave each guest a little cake, rather than having one huge one.

"It was a fantastic day, and I think when everyone had got over the shock of realising it was both a wedding and a christening they all had a great time. Nathan has wanted us to get married for ages and he couldn't wait to tell everyone at school."

The Howarths are now planning a romantic break in Paris in the coming months for their honeymoon. Nathan watched in tears as his parents tied the knot.

It was a happy occasion for the eight-year-old, who suffers from the rare blood disorder Fanconi's Anaemia.

At one stage his parents were told that, without a stem cell transplant, he might only have a year to live.

But the Howarths' second child, Hannah, now aged two, proved to be a genetic match for her brother, meaning cells from her umbilical cord could be transplanted into Nathan to save his life two years ago.

Following the surgery, Nathan had to be kept in isolation for seven months, but is now fighting fit.

It is hoped that the transplant could give him another 10 years, by which time a cure for Fanconi's Anaemia may have been found.