A place to remember our absent friends

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Getting married is a special moment to be shared with family and close friends.

But one couple who will feel the absence of a loved one is Paul Gaskell, 40, and Jessica Benson, from Preston, who revisited the grounds of St Catherine’s Hospice to remember the groom’s father ahead of their impending nuptials.

John Gaskell, from Ashton, was admitted to the Lostock Hall hospice on June 27, after being diagnosed with incurable cancer. He died just a few days later aged 74.

The couple returned to the hospice to reflect and remember John, as well as mark a special milestone in their lives, as they used the beautiful grounds of St Catherine’s Park as a sentimental backdrop for some pre-wedding photographs, supplied by Little Moment Photography.

Mum-of-two Jessica, 24, said: “We just think the grounds are so lovely, and it’s a very welcoming and peaceful place. We couldn’t thank the staff and volunteers enough for the support they gave John and the family, and Paul felt it was a very special place and an ideal setting to get the photos done. St Catherine’s is also a place where we can go now to remember John. It brings back nice memories.”

Jessica and Paul, a dad-of-one, will tie the knot at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Ribbleton, today, followed by a reception at Greenlands New Labour Club.

Lucy Paterson, from Little Moment Photography, based in Preston, said: “We were honoured to share some time with Jess and Paul in the very sentimental grounds of St Catherine’s Hospice.

“They told us how they had spent many days taking long walks round the gardens, chatting and making memories that they will keep forever.”

Chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “We are delighted more people are coming to enjoy St Catherine’s Park. This is reassuring to patients because it helps take away feelings of isolation that can be felt during serious illness. It’s heart-warming to hear that Jessica and Paul feel so connected to the hospice they chose to have their pre-wedding photographs here.”