LIFESTYLE

Go Giver: This Woman Started A Charity To Fund And Organise Weddings For Other Terminally Ill People

22/08/2014 15:37 BST | Updated 26/08/2014 16:59 BST

Naomi Thomas' life has dramatically changed since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 - but instead of letting the disease get the better of her, she is determined to live life to the full while helping others along the way.

This inspirational lady is the founder of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation - a charity which helps to organise and fund weddings for terminally ill people.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Naomi said right from her diagnosis she was determined to live a full and happy life.

naomi thomas

"When I was told I had breast cancer it was a real shock, I was only 26, however I just thought right, I need to beat this!

"In 2010 I gave birth to my little boy after a really difficult pregnancy. I'd suffered from excruciating back pain throughout."

Six days after giving birth, Naomi was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered her back was broken in three places and the cancer had spread to her bones.

"Once cancer spreads there is nothing else they can do, it’s basically terminal," Naomi says.

Due to the financial burden cancer can bring to a family, Naomi was unable to marry her fiancé, Graham.

But thankfully, in late 2011 a local wedding planner named Sam Williams offered to help Naomi organise her big day by finding local suppliers willing to offer their services for free or at a reduced rate.

naomi and graham

Naomi and Graham celebrating their wedding anniversary in June 2014 - they renew their vows each year.

"We were shocked that a complete stranger would do something so kind. Sam got to work and soon we realised just how giving the local community are. It got me thinking, maybe I could do this for others who are terminally ill too."

They got married on 6th June 2012.

Naomi, who has worked as a wedding planner in the past, created The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation to help people just as Sam had helped her.

"The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation organises and funds weddings for people with a life limiting or terminal illness around the whole of the U.K.

"We are able to do this with the help of very generous wedding suppliers who offer their time and expertise for free or at a heavily reduced rate," Naomi explains.

"Things such as food and drink costs are funded through the general public. People support us by doing a sponsored 5km run, parachute jump, swimathon, hold a ball or even a cake sale at their place of work.

"We also have people in the industry such as caterers and photographers who give us a percentage from each booking they get."

tom and joely

Tom and Joley, a couple helped by The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation

Naomi says, for a lot of terminally ill people, getting married is extremely important.

"For me, I wanted to get married so that our little boy would know that Mummy and Daddy loved each other enough to be married and for me to be my husband's wife until the day that maybe he meets someone else. That marriage can never be taken away from us.

"I find that the couples I help feel exactly the same. It becomes their priority. Our weddings are not just about the couple though, they're about the family too.

"It might be the first time in a long time they have seen that person smile and it may even be the last time. Its all about making memories," she says.

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Naomi runs the foundation despite being ill herself, and although at times it can be hard, she says it is well worth the effort.

"Running the foundation is exhausting but it makes me get out of bed each day. Even on bad days when I am in pain, I can still be making plans in my mind or replying to emails.

"The feeling of seeing one of our couples marry is like no other. I feel privileged to have been someone who facilitated an important part of their life right when they needed it most.

"I hope that my son Devon will see all that I have done and be proud of what his Mummy had achieved," she says.

emma and jason

Emma and Jason, another happy couple supported by the Wedding Wishing Well Foundation

Being diagnosed with breast cancer has completely changed Naomi's outlook on life. She even goes as far as saying her illness has helped her to become a "better person".

"I don't put up with people wasting my time anymore as time is so precious. If there's something I don't want to do, I won't do it, and if there's something I do want to do, I just don't put it off. I have become almost fearless and totally impatient!

"It has made me a better person though - my friends and family all take the time to tell each other we love one another much more now.

"My priorities now are my son and husband and making memories that will be remembered forever. We document all that we do so that my son will know who mummy was, rather than just hearing about who mummy was," she says.

The work The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation does brings joy to those going through a truly difficult time - it really is remarkable that Naomi contiues to help others while battling cancer herself.

So what gives her the strength to never give up?

"The simple answer is my little boy and my husband," she says. "Without them I just wouldn't still be here now."

Visit The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation here to apply for assistance with your wedding or to see how you can support the charity.

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