UPDATE: Hurrah and Huzzah it looks like we might have a solution! I’m afraid I can’t say much more than that at the moment and it’s going to take a couple of weeks to make sure it all works out but things are looking up! Thank you so much to everybody who helped out and spread the word, I really don’t know how to show my appreciation. I’m tempted to make Holly bake for you all but I fear she might not emerge from the kitchen until after our wedding if I did that…
There’s something about love that is almost impossible to describe. Hell, thousands of authors have penned tomes about how it wraps you up, sinks into every sinue of your body, pulls on your heart strings and envelops your mind. Somehow they don’t quite capture the whole feeling. I’m lucky, I’ve found love and I’m even luckier to say that I’m marrying the love of my life next year.
For those of you who don’t know Holly, you should. She’s the kindest person I’ve ever met. Fun, fiercely loyal and perfect to share a cold winter’s night in front of a log fire with. Oh and she bakes. My god does she bake.
I proposed to Holly earlier this year in Mongolia. It was a cool crisp dawn with the most amazing sunrise, beams of light colliding with clouds and scattering their way across the picturesque hillside. It was one of the single happiest moments of my life and one of the few times that I’ve almost been lost for words. Hell I don’t even have any pictures of the sunrise as for 10 minutes I put down the camera and soaked it all up with the love of my life.
Since then, though, our wedding plans have been hit by a string of bad luck and indeed that’s my motivation for this blog post today.
On the night of our return from Mongolia we gathered our friends for an engagement party. It was meant to be a time to celebrate, pull our loved ones together and show off the new ring with pride. That was until Holly got ill, seriously ill. We hadn’t even finished our first drink or said hello to everybody before we had to make a very quick dash to the hospital. Holly was taken into A&E with a temperature of 39°c a pulse rate of 160, dizzy, with heart twinges and unable to hold herself up. For the first time in my life I felt incredibly vulnerable and scared. Like a lot of guys I’m a ‘doer’, a ‘fixer’, I don’t wait around, I’m always formulating an answer, a way to fix any problem that occurs. I’ve raced boats, flown planes and jumped out of them. I’ve had shots whistle above my head and parachutes malfunction on me while heading increasingly quickly towards the ground. I’ve always felt in control, I’ve always known what I was doing, I’ve always known how to fix any problem. On that day though I realised that the most important problem of my life, how to fix the girl I loved, was a problem to which I had no answers and no fix. That kinda hits you.
After one of the longest nights of my life Holly started to come round. The staff at Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge were amazing, Holly had her own room on the infectious diseases ward and the care was second to none. After a lot of poking and prodding the results came back, Holly had “Siberian Tick Typhus” and as such was the most interesting case in the hospital. We had all-bar-one med students come study her and by the level of interest, including the photo I had of the tick, I think she may just have made a medical journal.
She was fixed though and that was the important thing, life went back to normal and the wedding planning could begin again.
Holly made an early start finding the dress and we started to figure out venues. We were really set on wanting to use a derelict RAF base I had found as the venue for the reception but while we could get permission in theory, getting it actually pinned down was proving really difficult. We spent months trying with surveys, health and safety inspections and the works. It was all looking really challenging but no matter what, at least we had the dress. Holly had found the one and it was proudly hanging stored in her parents’ house.
And now we come to the crux of the matter and the reason for the photos below. Holly got dealt another blow. Her family home, the 16th Century thatched cottage in which she had grown up and shared so many childhood memories burned down. The first room to go was the one where her prized possession, her wedding dress, was hanging carefully wrapped up.
I’ll never forget the moment when Holly’s parents telephoned to let her know what was happening. The shock, the dread, the disbelief. Luckily her parents had escaped with the dog and tortoise unharmed and that was the important thing. We told ourselves, the rest, the physical possessions, the memories were secondary and could be replaced.
We sat in silence for a full 10 minutes after we heard the house was on fire. Yet again I felt helpless, stuck the opposite side of the country unable to get back to do anything, unable to do anything but sit. It was then that it dawned upon us both that her dress, the only part of the wedding we had sorted, the only thing which seemed set in stone, the one symbol we had of the day to come, was a victim of the fire.
The following day we travelled across the country to survey the damage and try to help rescue what was left. After a long search through the rubble we spotted a tell tale piece of white fabric sticking out of a pile of burned thatch. It was the dress. In the blink of an eye it had been transformed from a thing of beauty, a symbol of what lay ahead into a charred, burned pile of ash.
And so I come to the point of the post. I’m a fixer, it’s Christmas coming up and I really want to give Holly back some hope. The dress was a Pronovias Megara in size 8. If anybody out there reading this can help or knows somebody that can help please, please get in touch. I know if I could somehow wrap one up and place it under the tree it would make a grown girl ridiculously happy. It might even go some way to make up for everything else that was lost.
Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, retweet this post, share it on Facebook, send it around to the family and friends, get the word out. If there’s anything I can do in return, any photography I can give, any manual labour required then I’m game. Anything to get another Megara.