It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life, but Charlotte Galbraith’s wedding day turned to tragedy when her dad suffered a fatal heart attack during his father of the bride speech.
Horror-struck guests rushed to the aid of Alan Bates, 65, when he collapsed at the Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley, last October.
As the bride was ushered out of the room, friends including an off-duty firefighter and NHS worker fought to save the 65-year-old’s life before an ambulance arrived.
Charlotte, 36, and her new husband, Steve, 42, of Horsforth, abandoned their wedding to go to Airedale Hospital, where Mr Bates sadly died that evening.
Now, nearly a year on, the wedding party and guests have fundraised for a defibrillator in memory of Mr Bates, which they hope to install at the training ground of his beloved football team, Huddersfield Town FC.
Charlotte said: “It’s all a bit of a blur. Everything was fine during the ceremony and the photos. We had drinks and canapes then went in to sit down.”
Speeches were to be held before the meal and Mr Bates started reading his. Charlotte said: “He just stopped talking. He fell to the floor and there was just screaming and panicking.
“I got rushed out of the room by one of my best friends and was sitting in the foyer. I didn’t know what was going on. I was just in stunned silence really.”
At the hospital, doctors told the family there was nothing they could do. “It was just devastating,” said Charlotte. She said they gave no thought to the fact they didn’t finish their big day.
“It just didn’t seem that important. Obviously it would have been lovely to have had an evening do, but at the end of the day, the most important thing was my dad walked me down the aisle and saw us get married, and that we are married.”
It was the stunned guests who remained in the hotel on the wedding day who formed the idea to fundraise in Mr Bates’ memory. A few weeks later, the couple, their best man, two bridesmaids and some wedding guests ran the Leeds Abbey Dash, dressed in Huddersfield Town shirts to raise the £1,800 needed.
Friend Rachel Hails contacted charity Community Hearbeat Trust which arranged for a defbrillator to be delivered to Craiglands Hotel. Unfortunately, the equipment disappeared at the hotel, but the venue’s insurance has paid for a replacement which arrived this week. Charlotte, who is four months pregnant with her second child, said she doesn’t believe a defibrillator would have saved her father, but hoped it could save others. The couple also have Annabelle, two, and Steve has son Mack, 11, from a previous relationship.