Rhiannon and Tom
Rhiannon Geran, a mental health nurse from Wolverhampton, and her fiance Thomas Rowberry, a sports journalist from Telford, are getting married in July 2022. The couple have bought Severn Hospice favours for their guests to thank us for caring for Tom’s grandad, George. Grandad George played a huge part in Tom’s life so they are dedicating a table at their wedding to him so they can feel he is part of their special day.
Here Rhiannon tells us all about finding love, remembering Grandad George and looking to the future.
“Tom and I met on a dating website four years ago and I thought his profile was very sweet. He’s an old-fashioned gentleman. I’m quite an old soul and I definitely don’t like dating sites. But Tom’s profile was lovely – he loves his dogs, his family and is into his music and we went to similar schools and knew people who knew each other. I am very lucky. He’s a good egg, not the standard you normally see; he even holds doors open for me.
“We went through a lot at the beginning of our relationship as I had a few conditions which sadly led to miscarriages. When I miscarried, I was quite far along and he did such kind things, very sweet things. He was my rock. He would go and get massive daisies for me or just do little, simple things. And he’d turn to me and ask me what I needed. And he’s continued to do that, and it means so much.
“It was such a surprise when we got engaged last November. We wind each other up all the time and it was a running joke that we’d get married one day. And we always go for walks, so I didn’t think anything of it when we went out with his dog, Missy, around Oakengates stomping in the freezing cold winter. Winter is our favourite and least favourite time of year. We love the snow; the snow always looks beautiful, like a new beginning for everything. But I had my miscarriage in the winter so now it brings up painful memories. We were sitting on our favourite bench, and he turned and said I’ve got something to ask you… When I realised it wasn’t a joke, I couldn’t speak for 10 minutes. Tom chose that time of year so we would have more good memories in the winter.
“Tom got the whole family involved in the engagement. He spoke to everyone including my lovely mum and told her he wanted to propose. He knew I liked unique things and he didn’t want to get a ring I didn’t like. So Mum took me to a vintage jewellers in Shrewsbury which is really not my thing – I’m not materialistic, I like reading books in coffee shops, not shopping. I asked why we were there, and she told me it was because dad never takes her shopping. After a while we were both trying rings on, and I was none the wiser. I found this tiny vintage ring with a rainbow opal and wings on the side, and it was lovely. I love quirky and I really don’t like diamonds. My mum said how much it suited me and it was a shame that no-one could buy it for me, and I’d need to come back when I was paid. And then Tom proposed a few weeks later with the gorgeous ring. Apparently even the man in the jewellers knew from the beginning. Everyone was in on it.
“When it comes to wedding planning, I am such a planner and I do micromanage – I’ve worked in healthcare for eight years so it’s just what I do naturally. Tom is so laid back he might as well be a sloth, we’re total yin and yang. We’re having a communal wedding at Wrekin Forest School, in the woods on the campsite with sunflowers and daisies as the theme – we’re more at home in nature than anywhere else. We’re having 150 guests and we decided to wait because we have big families and didn’t want to cap our guests because of COVID. For our honeymoon we are going to go to Canada so Tom can watch the Hockey opening season. And I get to see all the wildlife too.
“We’re sourcing everything from local businesses and we’re having a chocolate fudge cake with Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the bottom – Tom’s favourite – and a handmade wooden carving for the top. Tom’s obsessed with ice hockey and the cake decoration is me dragging him away when he’s playing. Tom’s doing the food and music – he likes Beach Boys and our first dance is God Only Knows which is something his Grandad George listened to as well.
“At our wedding we’re going to have a big table in honour of Tom’s Grandad George. Tom looks at his grandad as such a role model, and actually he embodies him. He is all about consideration for others and doing what’s right. I never met Grandad George but when you walk into Tom’s mum’s house there is a family wall and Grandad George is heavily featured there. Everyone still talks about him.
“Tom comes from a big, blended family. Trisha is his step-mum but mum and is from a big Scouse family. Apparently when Tom was about eight, Craig, Tom’s dad, turned up at Trisha’s for coffee and never left. That was it.
“Trisha’s dad, Grandad George, was a huge source of comfort and safety to Tom. All the kids would waste days away with Grandad George and go round a lot after school and watch football. He was a big man, and he had his special seat, and the kids would jump into the seat, and he would boom, “How dare you” and throw them off. They loved him. George was a very loving man, who supported all the kids. It was just the man that he was. He was a man you wanted to be around.
“When Grandad George got ill, Nan Kath looked after him at home with all the aunties going in regularly. He didn’t want to be in the hospital. Then when he needed more help, he was on the hospice ward for a few weeks, and they were massively supportive in the palliative stages of his life. The family were in and out of the ward and when they speak about Severn Hospice it brings tears to my eyes, they made such a difference at a horrible time.
“Grandad George passed away on January 11, 2016, at Severn Hospice in Apley, Telford. The whole family was able to be by his side. The staff were amazing, faultless. And they put up with Tom’s tribe as I call them – there are three aunties, and Tom has five siblings. Now Apley is another one of those places where Tom and I walk a lot. And I think it is a way of remembering him, remembering who he was and how he was and how Tom was able to be with him.
“I have done a lot of palliative work and I know the hospice helps families create memories in a short time. Tom told me that the best thing about Severn Hospice was that he could hold onto the memory of Grandad George being comfortable enough so Tom could make him laugh before he passed away. He was safe and well looked after and supported so Tom could have those last conversations with him, the same as they had when he was 10. He wouldn’t have those last and lasting memories without the care the hospice provides for free. And those memories keep Grandad George with him.
“We don’t want wedding presents so we picked the hospice to support as it is so important to Tom and his family. And getting our favours from the hospice is all about giving back and having Grandad George there at the wedding. And that’s what we both wanted.
“Grief can be inconsolable and an individual journey for everyone, yet we know that when someone else is in the midst of their despair they will be helped by the hospice and will have some good memories. And when some of the pain fades away, that’s what is left.
“When you get engaged you marry into your partner’s family tapestry and as you join each other’s, you create your own. I feel very privileged to be part of Tom’s story and part of Tom’s family. And Grandad George is that. To share in Tom’s memories with his grandad and to be able to do this for others is amazing. And to know if anyone in my family is in that situation the hospice is there to support us.”
Severn Hospice’s Karen Swindells said: “We were so happy when Rhiannon contacted us to order 150 pin badges for her wedding guests – she was our first customer for our new favour range and her story really touched us. Our new favours range of pin badges and lottery tickets can be part of any special celebration and a simple way to support us and to care for others.”
Our favours range includes lottery tickets and limited-edition pin badges, to find out more click here.