“A WEEK of love and laughter” was how Katie Prichard, 37, and Tom Cronin, 35, described the festivities around their very special wedding.
The Tysoe couple’s love story is a warming tale that would melt the iciest of hearts.
They told the Herald last month how a year ago, in February 2022, Katie’s cervical cancer was misdiagnosed and she failed to receive any treatment.
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856683)
Teacher Tom proposed to nurse Katie after they were told that she had “months rather than years to live” following a terminal diagnosis.
It was a wedding of two halves, with an official do on Monday, 27th February, at Stratford’s Henley Street Registration Office followed by a big celebratory party at Alveston Pastures last Tuesday.
Tom said: “It was like an Indian wedding, and seemed to go on for days. The Henley Room was beautiful and the people running it were awesome.
“We had our immediate family there, including my dad and sister and their families who came over from Canada.”
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856675)
After becoming Mr and Mrs, the wedding party went for a slap-up meal at the Royal Oak in Whatcote, where the couple had first got together as teenagers, and also the scene of the recent proposal.
The Michelin-starred pub, run by Richard and Solanche Craven, had opened especially to accommodate the couple and their 45 guests.
Katie said: “The food was unbelievable, and at the end of the meal they refused to let us pay. They are wonderful people and that was incredibly kind.”
Ensuring Katie, who is undergoing chemotherapy, had the energy to cope with their lengthy celebrations took some strategic thinking.
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856685)
She explained: “I have my chemo every three weeks and for the first week afterwards I’m pretty much bed-bound. I can’t walk and it’s excruciatingly painful and horrendous, then a week goes by and I gradually get better. So we timed it leading up to Thursday (today) when I have my next round.”
For the big follow-up bash, with 180 invited, Tom and Katie were determined that it would be upbeat, and even put out instructions to that effect.
“We sent a message out beforehand saying how much we wanted it to be a happy occasion,” explained Tom. “It’s not about cancer or about the hardships we’re going through, we wanted it to be a celebration regardless. And when it came to it everybody brought their A-game. There was the odd tear but it was hugely positive.”
It started with a mock wedding, with their friend Dan Everard acting as MC. Before things got under way there was just one thing, or actually two things, the couple had forgotten: sons Cass, three, and Percy, four. A mix-up of messages meant no one had collected them from nursery so the ceremony was halted for 40 minutes while Katie and Tom dashed to the rescue with much hilarity.
Sons in place “the best day ever continued”.
Katie walked down the aisle to Blink 182’s First Date – played on violin by Tom’s sister-in-law.
“It’s immature but about love and that’s what Katie and I are about – it’s classical music mixed with stupid punk pop, and it felt right,” explained Tom.
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856699)
Two hymns were also chosen, with everyone also joining in for rousing renditions of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere and Spice Girls’ 2 Become 1.
The couple describe how they have been overwhelmed by the way their friends, family and community rallied together to run the wedding. Some of the free help and donations included: friends supplying food for a buffet; flowers by Flower Thyme in Kineton; kegs of beer donated by Purity; wedding photography by Isobel and Jake; band Wired played for free, as did Oliver Darling; and an army of Katie’s mum’s friends helping with the catering and tidying.
We danced and danced,” recalled Katie. “There was no formality to it, and lots of people said how magical it was. It was very much a day of fun laughter and silliness. One of my highlights was playing tug-of-war in the sunshine – Pritchards versus Cronins.”
Tom can’t help but chip in: “The Cronins won!”
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856695)
One last gift came from Katie’s generous brother David, who paid for them to stay at the Fish Hotel just outside Chipping Campden. “We stayed in a shepherd’s hut by a lake – it was incredible,” said Tom.
For now the couple are following up on pursuing private treatment not available on the NHS, with a GoFundMe page aiming to raise £200,000.
“We’re still going for that miracle,” Katie told the Herald.
The couple say they continue to be amazed, overwhelmed and grateful for the continuing efforts of all the players of Stratford rugby club, work colleagues, friend, family and even strangers who have so far raised more than £153,000.
“The fundraising is constant and it’s everywhere,” observed Katie. “It’s really humbling.”
Tom added: “The money is obviously appreciated, but actually it reminds us how loved we are – it’s like a warm cuddle all the time.”
To donate, visit gofundme.com and search for ‘Please help fund Katie’s cancer treatment’.
Katie Pritchard and Tom Cronin. Photos: Isobel Murphy Photography (62856701)