Couple who met at University of Leeds more than 30 years ago marry in ceremony arranged in just three days

A couple who met while working at the University of Leeds more than 30 years ago tied the knot in a ceremony arranged in just three days.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 4:45 pm

Hilary Diaper, 71, and Justin Grossman, 94, met at the university of Leeds, where Justin was a senior lecturer and Hilary was the keeper of the university’s art collection.

They decided to get married in early 2020, but their plans were put on hold due to the Coronavirus outbreak. When the national lockdown was lifted during the summer, the couple were able to give notice of marriage at their local register office and the date was set for January 2021. However, this was again postponed because of the further lockdown.

The wedding was then set to take place this month, but towards the end of 2020 Justin, who was still active and energetic, became very unwell and his health deteriorated quickly. A hospital scan revealed he had a tumour which was pressing on his spine, leaving him unable to use his legs.

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Hilary and Justin were married by Reverend Cat Thatcher, Vicar of St. Mary’s Church in Oxenhope

A Sue Ryder Nurse from the community team at Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope set about getting the local vicar involved, who in turn gained a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury so the couple could marry at their home at Haworth three days later witnessed by a friend and Justin's eldest son from a previous marriage.

The ceremony was held on February 21.

Hilary said: “The day was just full of love and I’m so grateful to Lisa and the Chaplain at Manorlands for arranging it for us. Getting married is something that we’d wanted to do for a long time and it had a very special meaning. The whole sitting room was filled with flowers from family and friends and Cat did some appropriate readings including one from the Song of Solomon."

Friends and family rallied around to put some traditional touches to the day. One of Hilary's friends iced a wedding cake and posted it with decorations and assembly instructions, and Justin’s son’s partner made crochet bride and groom mice to wear as button holes.

Cutting the cake with champagne.

After the special ceremony, the couple celebrated with a slice of cake and some champagne.

Reverend Cat Thatcher, Vicar of St. Mary’s Church in Oxenhope, said: "I was delighted to be asked to conduct Hilary and Justin’s wedding, and to see their evident love and happiness on this special day. It was a joyful yet poignant occasion, truly reflecting those lines from the marriage vows – in sickness and in health. It was a privilege to be able to bless and pray for them.”

The couple's home is a few miles from Manorlands Hospice and Justin is being cared for there by Hilary and the Sue Ryder team.

Hilary added: "Going forward I know that I have great support from Lisa. Not only is she a lovely person, but she is phoning regularly and giving a lot of moral support and advice. I feel that I can talk to her about anything. Justin wishes to stay at home and Lisa is helping me to be able to do that.

“As we live locally to the hospice, we have been supporters for many years. We’ve always thought it provided a fantastic service, but we now feel extremely grateful that we’re receiving such good care and treatment.”

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