A couple who risked being separated by a lockdown ban on weddings have being married – thanks to the kindness of a Scottish registrar.
New Zealander Helena Leslie and fiancé John Scott were due to marry at the start of June near Northampton, their home town in the Midlands.
They chose the date because Helena, 26, was on a two-year visa from New Zealand that was due to expire on September 9. When Covid-19 stopped all UK weddings Helena was distraught because she would not have the right to stay in Britain. Only marriage would allow her to stay, as John’s wife.
The couple had met through work, shortly after Helena arrived on a Commonwealth Youth Mobility visa in 2018.
“It was love at first sight and we both wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other,” said IT specialist Helena. “We got engaged and set the date for June, with my family ready to fly over to join in the celebrations.
“Then, in March, all weddings were off because of Covid-19 and no one could say when they would resume. I had to marry before September or leave the country. John had to stay here for work so we prepared ourselves for the possibility of being separated by more than 11,000 miles for who knows how long.”
John, 34, also an IT specialist, said: “We really wanted to marry but, instead, faced the prospect of being separated. It was heartbreaking.”
In desperation, Helena contacted almost every registrar in England to ask when they could marry but her pleas went unanswered or they replied saying they could not help until lockdown had eased.
She turned to Scotland for help and, just hours after she emailed West Lothian Council offices, chief registrar Wendy Thomas replied. She vowed to marry them as soon as weddings got the go-ahead from the Scottish Government. The couple were overjoyed.
“We quickly checked it on the map to see exactly where in Scotland it was,” said Helena. “It was 350 miles up the motorway and a six-hour drive but at that moment we would have driven 1,000 miles or more to stay together.”
Registrar Wendy said: “Who could say no to a young couple so obviously in love?”
Humanist wedding celebrant Maureen Kettle, performed the ceremony. “This was one of my most romantic weddings. Everyone was doing all they could to help them marry,” she said.
The couple married in the grounds of Highfield House in the village of Kirknewton, West Lothian, last Thursday,
Retired couple Hugh and Jillian Gordon, opened their lockdown B&B to allow the ceremony to take place in the grounds.
“We did our best to make sure their day was as perfect as possible for them,” said Hugh, 78, a retired engineer. “We looked on from a distance.
“It reminded us of our own wedding day more than 50 years ago.”
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