“It’s so heart-warming, you don’t realise how many good people are out there.”
Those are the heartfelt words of Colette Moore and Gary Taylor, who have been left overwhelmed by kind-hearted strangers who have rallied around to make their wedding day extra special.
The couple, who live in Greetland, had only been engaged for a matter of months when they received the devastating blow that Gary, 44, had an eight-and-a-half inch tumour closing around his airways. While the tumour is not cancerous, Gary will have to undergo major surgery to remove it, with potentially life-changing repercussions.
The couple had planned for a long engagement and a small, low-key wedding, but in the face of uncertainty about the future, decided to bring the date forward.
And when news of their heart-breaking ordeal reached the community, fundraising which initially began to help buy their wedding rings snowballed as people dug deep to help.
Colette, 39, a teaching assistant at Wood Bank School, Luddenden Foot, said: “It’s so heartwarming, you don’t realise how many good people are out there. You see all these bad things happening and this just means to much to us and we want make sure that everybody knows how thankful we are.
“The wives of two of Gary’s friends from football came around and said they’d had so many people in the community ringing them, asking what they could do to help.
“They said they wanted to make the day perfect and as we weren’t having a wedding reception, Greetland Community Centre would put one on for us with a three-course meal.
“A photographer has offered his services for free, a friend of mine is buying our wedding cake. There’s bits of everything.”
Gary, a service engineer at Halifax-based Witt and Son, added: “I’m overwhelmed and emotional about it all. I just can’t believe what the community has spent and what they are doing for us.
“It’s hard to put into words, but it makes you realise how nice people are. With everything that’s going on, people want to help.”
Colette’s Slimming World group at Skircoat Green has been fundraising non-stop, Gary’s friends from his football team in Greetland have fundraisers planned and countless others have offered to help out in any way they can - both with the wedding and support after Gary’s operation.
“It was devastating news, especially when we went for over a month without knowing if it was cancer or not,” said Colette.
“But to know we are going to have all that support and that we are not going to be on our own after the operation has given us such a boost. It has been absolutely overwhelming.”
Gary will undergo surgery in August, but the couple have been told that he will be left with permanent speech damage, will need help to breathe and eat after the operation and there’s a chance he will be prone to strokes for the rest of his life.
But the bright light on the horizon is the wedding - the pair will tie the knot next Friday, July 29, at Calderdale Register Office, with a reception at Greetland Community Club and an evening party at The Sportsman, Greetland.
Gary’s son Kyle, 16, will be his best man and Colette’s daughter Bethany, 12, will be a bridesmaid.