Rarely has the marriage vow, ‘in sickness and in health,’ been more fitting for any couple as it was for Shaun Whiter and his bride, Charlotte Way, as they married on Friday.
Just a year ago the bridegroom, and his best friend Joey Abbs, had been the victims of a hit and run driver as they mended a puncture on Joey’s car at the side of the road just outside Newmarket.
Both were rushed to hospital where it soon became clear Shaun, who had lost four pints of blood, had suffered horrendous injuries and would permanently lose both his legs from the knee down.
As he lay not knowing whether he would live or die the thought of marrying the love-of-his-life Charlotte had kept him alive.
“In hospital, the moment I realised I had lost my legs the first thing I did was to ask Charlotte if we were still getting married,” Shaun had said. “I was terrified she wouldn’t want to any more. When she said yes the next thing I said was that I was going to walk her down the aisle.”
And it was that determination which lead to the happiness the couple shared in front of their family and friends at their wedding. It was a day which they had cherished in their dreams and one which, in those early dark hours after Shaun’s accident, must have seemed a lifetime away.
Friday’s emotionally-charged service at Burrough Green’s Church of St Augustine, just a stone’s throw from Charlotte’s family home, was filled with happiness and some tears from a congregation well acquainted with the couple’s journey to the altar.
Joey Abbs was one of Shaun’s six ushers and could barely hide the tears as he watched the friend, whose hand he had held all those months ago as the pair lay seriously injured waiting for the ambulance to arrive, emerge from the church with his bride.
“I knew this day would come,” said Joey, who is now back playing football for Fulbourn, “as the first thing Shaun said when he woke up was ‘I still want to get married.’”
And as the hymns were sung and readings read, there was another reminder of how far they had come, as from high over head there came the unmistakable sound of helicopter rota blades as the East Anglian Air Ambulance, whose crew members had been instrumental in saving Shaun’s life, hovered above the trees paying its own special tribute as it made its way from another call.
The couple were married by former Burrough Green vicar, the Rev Mike Banyard, who had come out of retirement to perform the ceremony, and summed up the thoughts of so many. “This is a couple who have come through so much together and their happiness today is there for all to see,” he said.
For Shaun and Charlotte love had certainly conquered all.