Doctor and nurse marry in hospital chapel after cancelling summer wedding due to coronavirus

Gabriella Swerling
Jann Tipping and Annalan Navaratnam are married by Revd Mia Hilborn at St Thomas' Hospital in London - Rebecca Carpenter Photography

Churches may be closed amid the coronavirus lockdown, but one lucky couple were able to still to get married in the midst of the pandemic. 

Jann Tipping, a 34-year-old ambulatory emergency nurse, and Annalan Navaratnam, a 30-year-old acute medical registrar, were married in the Grade II-listed chapel at St Thomas' Hospital in London at the end of last month.

The couple, front line key workers treating coronavirus patients, had been forced to scrap a planned summer wedding amid fears that their families would not be able to travel safely from Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.

Yet rather than opting to postpone the event, the pair, from Tulse Hill, south London, decided to get married with the help of St Thomas' chaplaincy team, with guests watching remotely.

The Church of England has granted a few dozen special licences for weddings, some of which are believed to have been given to terminally ill patients, during the lockdown. 

Jann said: "We wanted to have the ceremony while everyone was still healthy, even if it meant our loved ones having to watch us on a screen. We wanted to make sure we could celebrate while we were all still able to.

"The chaplaincy team worked hard to get permission for us to be married, which we appreciated greatly at a time when so much was going on. A date was set within two weeks, and we hadn't bought my dress, our rings and other things we needed, so we rushed to get everything done quickly."

The service was held by Revd Mia Hilborn, the head of spiritual healthcare at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, with only Revd Hilborn, Jann, Annalan and two witnesses in the chapel.

"It was nice being just us, it felt very intimate," Jann, who has worked at the hospital for six years, said. 

After the ceremony, the newlyweds hosted a virtual drinks reception for their guests – having sent champagne to their homes in advance – which included their first dance and speeches. 

Revd Hilborn said: "At such a challenging time for staff, as chaplains we strive to offer as much support as we can.

"I was delighted to be able to get special permission to marry Jann and Annalan in the beautiful chapel at St Thomas'. It was a lovely service, and I was thrilled to be part of it."