Tributes to 'fantastic' Simone, 30, as couple renew wedding vows

Craig and Simone Callaghan at their wedding renewal at Venue 16.

Craig and Simone Callaghan were able to renew their wedding vows on July 11, five days before Simone died at home surrounded by her family. - Credit: Leeanne Farris "photography at 31"

Tributes have been paid to a 30-year-old mum of five as she fulfilled her wish to renew her wedding vows five days before her death.

Craig Callaghan said his wife Simone was "nothing short of fantastic" and grateful to those who helped make her dream come true.

Simone was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer a week before her 30th birthday last year

Simone's wish was to hold the renewal to give her loved ones happy memories after she had gone. 

Simone's wish was to hold the renewal to give her loved ones happy memories after she had gone. - Credit: Leeanne Farris "photography at 31"

She was told the cancer was terminal shortly after returning from a family holiday to Florida, which the community had rallied around the Callaghan's to make happen back in April this year. 

Craig said: "She was nothing short of fantastic. From the day she was diagnosed she was just so strong. For a grown man that would have been an incredibly hard thing to deal with but Simone's exact words were 'I have been dealt this card I have to get on with it.'

"She was an amazing woman who has been strong and never once complained right until the day she passed. She was still cracking jokes."

Venue 16 contacted the couple to offer them the venue for their wedding renewal. 

Venue 16 contacted the couple to offer them the venue for their wedding renewal. - Credit: Leeanne Farris "photography at 31"

After initially planning to host their renewal next year, doctors told the couple to bring it forward to August, and they had plans to host the event at the Belstead Brook Hotel.

With her health deteriorating the couple were able to make those memories on July 11 with the help of Venue 16. 

It was Simone's wish to ensure her loved ones had happy memories to share. 

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The venue reached out to the couple after hearing of Simone's request.

Craig, from Pinewood, said: "They asked how they would be able to help and pretty much did the entire day. It was nothing short of fantastic, so many people helping and it was the most wonderful day. All we had to cover was the cost of the food.

Simone died surrounded by her family a week later on July 16 aged 30.

Craig said: "We all were there and all held her hand. I'm so pleased we could give her that wish." 

The couple got together in 2014 and married six years later on August 15 2020 at the Opens Hotel in Norwich.

"I knew she was the one for me," he said. 

Simone and Craig Callaghan with their five children

Simone and Craig are parents to five children aged between 3 and 13. - Credit: Leeanne Farris "photography at 31"

The couple have five children between them aged three, five, seven, 12 and 13. 

During her diagnosis, Simone had worked to raise awareness around the symptoms of bowel cancer.

Craig added: "Even before she passed away she was still thinking of others. She had given me an envelope and said when I am gone you need to give this to my friend and inside was a gift and a lovely message.

"She was just an amazing woman. I cannot find the words that describe her, she was fantastic." 

A funeral service for Simone will be held on August 22. 

What are the signs of bowel cancer?

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms: a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in the faeces without other symptoms of piles and abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating.

The NHS advises a person goes to their GP if any of the symptoms for three weeks or more. 

Awareness around the cancer has been highlighted through the work of the late Dame Deborah James, who raised close to £7m through her Bowelbabe Fund.

The journalist was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2016 and died on June 28 this year. 

Bowel Cancer can affect anyone of any age with nine in 10 cases in people over the age of 50.

It is currently the fourth most common cancer in the UK with nearly 43,000 people diagnosed every year.

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early and decreases significantly says Bowel Cancer UK as the disease develops.

Professor Mark Shenton, of Suffolk's Intergrated Care Academy, said: "These symptoms don't necessarily mean you have cancer but it's so important you make contact with your GP practice to get checked out.

"The earlier cancer is diagnosed the better your chances of survival."