Doctor and nurse tie the knot in hospital chapel after wedding cancelled

Emergency nurse Jann Tipping and doctor Annalan Navaratnam had planned to get married in August.

But with the coronavirus crisis, they decided to cancel as they worried their Jann’s family wouldn’t be able to travel from Northern Ireland and Annalan’s family from Sri Lanka.

They still wanted to tie the knot though and with the help of St Thomas’ hospital, where they both work on the frontline, they were able to get married.

Jann, 34, and Annalan, 30, from Tulse Hill in South London, said their vows at the end of April in the Grade 2 listed chapel at the hospital, with two witnesses present and their family and friends watching on Zoom.

They asked the hospital’s chaplaincy team if it was possible to have a private wedding ceremony in the chapel, which has features dating back to when St Thomas’ opened on its current site opposite the Houses of Parliament in 1870.

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Jann, an ambulatory emergency nurse, said: ‘We wanted to have the ceremony while everyone was still healthy, even if it meant our loved ones having to watch us on a screen. We wanted to make sure we could celebrate while we were all still able to.

‘The chaplaincy team worked hard to get permission for us to be married, which we appreciated greatly at a time when so much was going on.

‘A date was set within two weeks and we hadn’t bought my dress, our rings and other things we needed so we rushed to get everything done quickly.’

The service, which took place on Friday 24 April, was held by Revd Mia Hilborn, head of spiritual healthcare at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, with only Revd Hilborn, Jann, Annalan and two witnesses inside the chapel.

Jann said: ‘It was nice being just us, it felt very intimate. One of our witnesses live streamed the service so our friends and family could watch.

‘It was a lovely wedding and the chapel is beautiful, although it did feel surreal getting married where we work, and in a hospital. St Thomas’ is such a special place to us both, and especially to me, having been here for the last six years. Now there is an extra reason why it’s so important to us.’

They then hosted a virtual reception complete with a first dance and speeches. They had sent guests champagne for the reception to their homes in advance.

Jann said: ‘We had a beautiful wedding day which we will always remember. It was a nice thing to happen in the middle of an anxious time. We’re so grateful to the chaplaincy team who went the extra mile to make it possible.’

Annalan, an acute medical registrar who has been working at St Thomas’ for one year, added:  ‘Jann and I wanted to get married from the moment I proposed. We’re so happy that we have been able to commit ourselves to one another and that the hospital has been able to support us to do that.’

Revd Hilborn said: ‘At such a challenging time for staff, as chaplains we strive to offer as much support as we can. We know how upsetting it is to need to delay big celebratory events such as weddings so we are happy to talk to any staff who need to postpone their wedding to see how we can help.

‘I was delighted to be able to get special permission to marry Jann and Annalan in the beautiful chapel at St Thomas’. It was a lovely service and I was thrilled to be part of it.’

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