When a couple from Llantwit Major had their wedding cancelled due to the coronavirus, the community came together to ensure they still had their special day by officiating over an unofficial ceremony – in the street.
Their local community hosted a street party full of games and activities for the Great Get Together in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox, and came together to ensure that Michael Lomas and Alicia Evans didn’t miss out on the biggest day of their life.
Friends from their street arranged an aisle and socially distant seating for the considerately rearranged ceremony that even included bridesmaids from the neighbourhood, complete with bouquets picked from gardens.
Congratulations to Mike, who is originally from Leeds, and Alicia who is from Rhoose, near Barry and works as an ICU nurse in the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. They moved to the area a year ago and had planned to marry on the Gower Peninsula prior to lockdown.
The ‘groom’, Michael Lomas, said: “When the wedding was cancelled we expected it to be a weekend full of disappointment and misery. Instead it’s been really memorable and we’ll always remember the time we got married in the street by our neighbours.
“They had got wind that we’d meant to be married on the day and we had no idea it was going to happen. Halfway through the street party, the organiser asked my fiancée to go one end of the street and I was ordered to go to the other. I put on a shirt and dickie bow and my fiancée had a veil. We had flower girls and someone had been picking bouquets from people’s gardens, so it was a real surprise. We didn’t know any of these people before lockdown and we’ll remember that forever.”
Claire Millar, local resident who officiated the ceremony and married the couple with dressing up rings, said:
“They’re 1960s house on our street and some people bought the houses from new. And, one of the residents said ‘there hasn’t been anything like this since the 1970s’ so it was brilliant. The fact we had to do it outside maybe was a blessing.”
Jo Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, said:
“Wow. What an amazing Great Get Together weekend it has been. It has been inspirational and heartwarming for me to see so many people across the country coming together ‘virtually’ to celebrate the power of community and remember Jo’s message that we have ‘more in common than that which divides us.’ From local acts of community kindness, to the global Run for Jo and a powerful and moving online community service, we have shown that, whilst there are undoubtedly still important challenges to overcome, there is also a huge amount to be proud of in our communities. And despite being deeply saddened by the horrific attack in Reading on Saturday I, along with many, many others remain resolute that we will not allow ourselves to be divided. Together we can show those who seek to sow division and hatred that they will never win. So on behalf of Jo’s family I say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to every single person who joined in with this year’s Great Get Together - please stay connected, stay safe and stay strong.”
Every year since her murder in 2016, thousands of people across the UK have got together to remember Jo Cox and her message that we all have more in common than that which divides us. In 2020 the ‘Great Get Together’ took on a different form and the weekend of Jo’s birthday on June 19th-21st provided an opportunity for people to connect with others in their communities.
Catherine Anderson, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation, said:
"The Great Get Together is special every year - but perhaps even more so this year as we all find new and innovative ways to reach out to our friends, neighbours and to those in need in our communities, in extremely challenging times. Inspired by Jo, we want to make sure that our incredible Great Get Together family across the UK can continue to celebrate Jo's values, which resonate now more than ever before. Strengthened bonds and more connected communities will be one of the legacies of covid-19, and we believe that experience of togetherness will outlast the present crisis and endure long into the future."
See what’s happening around the country or register a new event here:
Nathan is the Operations Director at Bro Radio. You can hear him on air on Vale Breakfast weekday mornings from 7am or reading local news bulletins throughout the week.