When Niki Howells-Schramm was three years old she asked her Grandad Tom to walk her down the aisle when she one day married.
The two had developed an enduring bond when Niki and her family had lived with her grandparents following the loss of their home in the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
So when Tom’s health deteriorated and he was unable to travel to Melbourne for his granddaughter’s wedding, Niki was determined to find a way to keep the commitment. She decided to plan a second wedding, this one much closer to Tom.
Her mother, Tess Howells, contacted AnglicareSA’s Elizabeth Dutton Court residential aged care facility where Tom lives, with an unusual request.
“I asked them if it would be possible for us to hold a wedding ceremony at Elizabeth Dutton Court,” Tess said.
“They said yes straight away. The staff embraced the idea and everyone has been so accommodating and helpful to us. They have been wonderful.”
Residents at the facility have been invited to attend the ceremony and watch Niki realise her dream to have Tom walk her down the aisle.
AnglicareSA’s Head of Residential Aged Care, Jacinta Robertson, said Niki and Tom’s story had captured the imagination of the staff at Elizabeth Dutton Court and everyone was excited to help.
“Our carers become a part of our residents’ extended families,” said Ms Robertson.
“When an opportunity like this comes along to bring so much joy to a resident and his family, of course we will embrace it and do whatever we can to ensure it happens.
“Working in aged care, it’s not often you get to be involved in the planning of a wedding!
“To be able to help Niki realise her lifelong dream of having her Grandad walk her down the aisle is a real privilege.”
Niki and her husband Anastas will renew their wedding vows exactly a month to the day after their original Melbourne wedding, this time in front of 60 relatives and friends, including Tom’s fellow Elizabeth Dutton Court residents. The ceremony will be followed by an afternoon tea reception.