Local couple, Rhiannon and Thomas chose to give their guests Severn Hospice wedding favours
Rhiannon Geran, a mental health nurse from Wolverhampton, and her fiance Thomas Rowberry, a sports journalist from Telford, are getting married next July. Tom’s grandad, George, played a huge part in his life growing up, and they are dedicating a table at their wedding to him so they can feel he is part of their special day. They have bought Severn Hospice favours for their guests as they want to thank the charity for caring for grandad George.
"Tom and I met on a dating website four years ago, and I thought his profile was very sweet," says Rhiannon. "He’s an old-fashioned gentleman. I’m quite an old soul, and I definitely don’t like dating sites but Tom’s profile was lovely - he loves his dogs, his family, and is into his music, and we went to similar schools and knew people who knew each other. I am very lucky. He’s a good egg, not the standard you normally see; he even holds doors open for me."
"It was such a surprise when we got engaged last November," explains Rhiannon. "We wind each other up all the time, and it was a running joke that we’d get married one day. We always go for walks, so I didn’t think anything of it when we went out with his dog, Missy, around Oakengates stomping in the freezing cold winter. We were sitting on our favourite bench, and he turned and said I’ve got something to ask you. When I realised it wasn’t a joke, I couldn’t speak for 10 minutes!
"Tom got the whole family involved in the engagement. He spoke to everyone, including my lovely mum and told her he wanted to propose. He knew I like unique things, and he didn’t want to get a ring I didn’t like, so my Mum took me to a vintage jeweller in Shrewsbury, which is really not my thing - I’m not materialistic, I like reading books in coffee shops, not shopping. I asked why we were there, and she told me it was because dad never takes her shopping. After a while, we were both trying rings on, and I was none the wiser. I found this tiny vintage ring with a rainbow opal and wings on the side, and it was lovely. I love quirky, and I really don’t like diamonds. My mum said how much it suited me, and it was a shame that no one could buy it for me, and I’d need to come back when I was paid. Tom then proposed a few weeks later with the gorgeous ring. Apparently, even the man in the jewellers knew from the beginning. Everyone was in on it."
"When it comes to wedding planning, I am such a planner, and I do micromanage - I’ve worked in healthcare for eight years, so it’s just what I do naturally," shares Rhiannon. "Tom is so laid back he might as well be a sloth, we’re total yin and yang. We’re having a communal wedding at Wrekin Forest School, in the woods on the campsite with sunflowers and daisies as the theme - we’re more at home in nature than anywhere else. We’re having 150 guests, and we decided to wait because we have big families and didn’t want to cap our guests because of COVID. For our honeymoon, we are going to go to Canada, so Tom can watch the Hockey opening season and I get to see all the wildlife too.
"We’re sourcing everything from local businesses, and we’re having a chocolate fudge cake with Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the bottom - Tom’s favourite - and a handmade wooden carving for the top. Tom’s obsessed with ice hockey, and the cake decoration is me dragging him away when he’s playing. Tom’s doing the food and music - he likes Beach Boys and our first dance is God Only Knows which is something his grandad George listened to as well.
"At our wedding, we’re going to have a big table in honour of Tom’s grandad George. Tom looked at his grandad as such a role model, and actually, he embodies him. He is all about consideration for others and doing what’s right. I never met grandad George, but when you walk into Tom’s mum’s house there is a family wall, and grandad George is heavily featured there. Everyone still talks about him."
"Tom comes from a big, blended family," says Rhiannon. "Grandad George was a huge source of comfort and safety to Tom. All the kids would waste days away with George and go round a lot after school and watch football. He was a big man, and he had his special seat, and the kids would jump into the seat, and he would boom, “How dare you” and throw them off. They loved him. he was a very loving man, who supported all the kids. It was just the man that he was. He was a man you wanted to be around."
When George got ill, his nan Kath looked after him at home with all the aunties going in regularly," explains Rhiannon. "He didn’t want to be in the hospital. Then when he needed more help, he was on the hospice ward for a few weeks, and they were massively supportive in the palliative stages of his life. The family were in and out of the ward, and when they speak about Severn Hospice it brings tears to my eyes, they made such a difference at a horrible time.
"Grandad George passed away on January 11, 2016, at Severn Hospice in Apley, Telford. The whole family was able to be by his side. The staff were amazing, faultless. They put up with Tom’s tribe as I call them - there are three aunties, and Tom has five siblings. Now Apley is another one of those places where Tom and I walk a lot. I think it's a way of remembering him, remembering who he was and how he was and how Tom was able to be with him.
"I have done a lot of palliative work, and I know the hospice helps families create memories in a short time. Tom told me that the best thing about Severn Hospice was that he could hold onto the memory of grandad George being comfortable enough so Tom could make him laugh before he passed away. He wouldn’t have those last and lasting memories without the care the hospice provides for free. And those memories keep grandad George with him."
"We don’t want wedding presents, so we picked the hospice to support as it is so important to Tom and his family," adds Rhiannon. "Getting our favours from the hospice is all about giving back and having grandad George there at the wedding.
"When you get engaged you marry into your partner’s family tapestry and as you join each other’s, you create your own. I feel very privileged to be part of Tom’s story and part of Tom’s family. To share Tom’s memories with his grandad and to be able to do this for others is amazing. To know if anyone in my family is in that situation the hospice is there to support us."
Karen Swindells from Severn Hospice said: “We were so happy when Rhiannon contacted us to order 150 pin badges for her wedding guests – she was our first customer for our new favour range, and her story really touched us. Our new favours range of pin badges and lottery tickets can be part of any special celebration and a simple way to support us and to care for others.”
Severn Hospice has relaunched their favours range to include lottery tickets and limited-edition pin badges. To find out more, visit www.severnhospice.org.uk/favours