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Heartbroken groom recites vows at fiancée’s funeral after she dies two weeks before their wedding


Kate in hospital with Ryan and her parents (Picture: PA Real Life)

A heartbroken groom whose fiancée died just two weeks before their planned wedding has told how he had to recite their vows at her funeral instead.

Ryan Dixon, 25, then returned to the Cornish headland where he had proposed on May 30, 2020 – the day before she first felt the agonising chest pains caused by the skin cancer that killed her – to scatter her ashes in their ‘favourite place.’

Diagnosed with stage four melanoma – advanced skin cancer – in July last year, Kate Wignall, of St Austell, Cornwall, an occupational therapist until her illness took hold, was just 25 when she passed away on April 14, 2021.

Bravely reading aloud the vows they wrote together, Ryan recited: ‘Although these are the vows we did not get to speak, they will be ours forever, to cherish and keep.’

Lab technician Ryan, who became Kate’s teenage sweetheart after they met when he moved to St Austell from nearby Lost Withiel, Cornwall, when he was 15, has now vowed to honour her by continuing to tick off a bucket list of experiences she hoped to have before her death.

He has also helped raise more than £5,000 for Cancer Research by hiking up the three highest peaks in the UK in her memory.

The childhood sweethearts after getting the keys to their first home (Picture: PA Real Life)

Ryan said: ‘If I can take Kate’s legacy with me everywhere I go, that’s what I’m going to do.

‘She was the most beautiful soul in the world inside and out, so I hope I can do her just a little bit of justice, but it will never compare to how she really was.

‘The way I see it is she’s always with me, so it’s never truly goodbye.’

The first sign that anything was wrong with Kate the day after Ryan’s proposal, when she experienced sudden, agonising chest pains.

After seeing the doctor and being sent for tests, just six weeks later she was diagnosed with the aggressive disease.

After getting engaged in May last year, right before a shooting pain prompted Kate to get a checkup (Picture: PA Real Life)

Further investigations resulted in an official diagnosis of stage four advanced melanoma, which had spread to her brain, spine, spleen, kidney and lungs.

Speaking last year, to warn other young people of the dangers of skin cancer, she said: ‘It was heartbreaking telling Ryan. We’d been on such a high and now our lives were suddenly and sharply going in a different direction.’

Although scans initially showed that chemotherapy was working, another lump was found after Christmas and Kate had to undergo further immunotherapy.

By March, the deterioration in health meant that Ryan became Kate’s full-time carer.

The couple had planned to wed in Rhodes, Greece, in 2022, but brought the date forward and the venue closer to make as many memories as possible.

Ryan got Kate a dog, Colby, for her 25th as part of her ‘live list’ (Picture: PA Real Life)

Ryan said: ‘We didn’t quite make it. Only three and a half weeks after being at home she passed away with me, her mum, her dad and her sister by her side at home.

‘Kate’s last memories were planning our wedding which is a slight comfort as she was so excited about it.

‘She was very strong-willed, and she didn’t want to get married at home. She wanted the venue and the dress and, typical Kate, she wouldn’t have it any other way. But neither would I.’

Kate’s funeral was held at Glynn Valley Crematorium and, in line with her wishes, everything was ‘bright and colourful.’

Her family read messages and poems to reflect her ‘always smiling’ personality.

The vows Ryan read at Kate’s funeral (Picture: PA Real Life)

And while Covid rules limited attendance to 30 people, the service was also streamed online.

Ryan’s vows, adapted from what he was supposed to say while they were married, read: ‘Although these are the vows we did not get to speak, they will be ours forever, to cherish and keep.

‘I feel so privileged to have felt true love. To have loved you and been loved by you, to have lived our lives so fully, together.

‘You have already given me the world, Kate. I will always love you and my heart will always belong to you.’

He scattered her ashes alongside her family, and is now completing his beloved Kate’s ‘live list’ – a list of things she wanted to do.

Ryan and his friends at the top of Scafell Pike, part of their three-peak challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research (Picture: PA Real Life)

The pair got a dog called Coby for Kate’s 25th, who Ryan will now be looking after. Kate had also wanted to climb Snowdon, which Ryan has done (alongside climbing two of UK’s other highest peaks) and raised £5,300 for Cancer Research in the process.

Looking to the future, Ryan said he knows Kate would want him to enjoy life.

He said: ‘She told me she wanted me to really live my life, to bring Coby up and to live for her as well.

‘She even told me she wanted me to find someone to love again, someday. Hopefully, that will happen when the time is right, but what I’m trying to do now is make the most of every day.

‘I know far too well that life is so short and none of us is guaranteed a tomorrow.

“Kate and I knew that. We explored so much of the world together, we lived each day as fully as possible with each other for the last 10 years.

‘And I will carry her in my heart and take her positive views with me throughout my life.’

To donate, visit 3 peaks challenge in memory of Kate.

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Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.


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