A new bride wore her late father’s ashes around her neck on her big day so she could feel like he was with her as she walked down the aisle.
Kelly Campbell’s glazer dad, Paul Harvey, 34, died of a brain haemorrhage when she was just nine, and, growing up, the stay-at-home mum often imagined how her wedding day would be, feeling sad that her father would miss it.
Then, the day before her August 2017 nuptials to businessman Luke Campbell, 36, the groom presented Kelly, 30, of Dudley, West Midlands, with a beautiful blue pendant made from her dad’s ashes.
“It was quite emotional, seeing the necklace for the first time. In a way, it was my something old, something new and something blue, all in one,” said Kelly, who kept her father’s ashes in an urn at home.
“I do have a stepdad, Tony Barker, 53, who drives a roadsweeping truck. He did a fantastic job of giving me away, so I don’t want to take anything away from him.
“But the necklace meant that Dad could be there too.”
After losing her father so young, Kelly’s recollection of him can be sketchy, but she treasures her memories of them playing in the garden together or going fishing – a hobby he adored.
Sadly, his untimely death following a brain haemorrhage – a type of bleed in or around the brain – left her mum Lesley Barker, now 53, who has since remarried, widowed at just 33.
“They’d been together since school. Dad was all that Mum knew,” said Kelly.
In the years that followed, Kelly found work as an undertaker, which is how she first heard about Ashes into Glass, a company that turns cremation ashes into jewellery or commemorative paperweights.
She continued: “I helped put a few families I worked with in touch with the company, so I had already seen the end products before I got mine and knew the jewellery they made was beautiful.
“I’d always thought it would be a nice thing to do for Dad.”
When Kelly met Luke through mutual friends when they were teenagers, getting engaged around 12 years ago, the bride-to-be told him how she kept thinking about the fact her dad would not be there on her wedding day.
Then, a few months before they tied the knot, Luke asked Kelly if she wanted to get a cremation ashnecklace made for her 30th birthday, which fell the day before their wedding.
Delighted by the touching gesture, she accepted and sent away some of her dad’s ashes.
The company only need a spoonful to create the jewellery - returning any unused ashes to the owner.
They then create the bespoke pieces by layering them together with coloured glass crystals and molten glass.
Around eight weeks after sending her dad’s ashes away, Kelly’s completed necklace arrived.
Opening the parcel in front of her children, Roxy, nine, Travis, six and Jaxon, one, she said: “The kids were asking all sorts of questions, so I gently explained to them that it was a present to help Mummy remember her daddy.
“They’re aware of the situation and know that their biological granddad died before they were born.
“I also chose to have ‘trying not to forget’ engraved on the back. I was so young when it happened. I look at Roxy now and realise she’s the same age I was when I lost Dad.
“As the years go on, you do forget more and more, but I want to try and remember as much as possible.”
On her big day, at Priory Hall in Dudley, guests were bowled over by the necklace, with many shedding tears over the poignant gesture.
Afterwards, Kelly posted about it on Facebook and was met with thousands of likes, shares and comments - even inspiring others to tell their own tales of unusual things they’ve done with cremation ashes.
“I’m not the most weddingy person. I even wore Converse trainers on the day, because anything blingy and glitzy just isn’t me,” she said.
“I remember looking at wedding jewellery and not liking any of it.
“But then Luke suggested the necklace, and it was just perfect. It was everything I needed.
“I wore it on my wedding day and haven’t taken it off since. I don’t think I ever will.”