Published on: 17 August 2023
A couple who help lead a hospital charity swapped their shop counter for the altar after finding love during lockdown.
Josie Wigham and Eddie Fenwick were matched up by a mutual friend when lockdown started to ease.
Newlyweds Eddie and Josie on their wedding day at The Little Haven Hotel.
Now they have become man and wife after tying the knot at the Little Haven Hotel in South Shields at the weekend.
Josie is chairman of the League of Friends of South Tyneside District Hospital and also manages its shop in the Ingham Wing reception.
She first became a volunteer 14 years ago after she came across its good work while she visited with husband Bill.
He died in 2018 after years of her devoted care when he became unwell with the lung condition COPD.
Eddie became a widower in 2010 when his wife Pat died when she developed cancer for the second time.
He and Josie help oversee deliveries and more to keep the shop’s shelves packed with treats, snacks, puzzle books and useful items for patients, staff and visitors.
Josie and Eddie in the shop they help run at South Tyneside District Hospital for the League of Friends volunteers.
Funds raised are invested in additional equipment and projects for the hospital.
The couple are marking three years together, with Eddie popping the question to Josie on her birthday in July last year as they visited Washington DC on a holiday when they travelled to see her son Paul.
They are now looking forward to an extended honeymoon in the US, when they will visit Paul and his family again in Connecticut, with breaks in Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Montauk in Long Island on their itinerary.
Josie is also mam to daughter Angela and has four grandchildren. Eddie is dad to Graeme and Neil and a grandad of two. They were surrounded by their friends and family for their big day.
The ceremony was Facetimed to loved ones unable to make it, as they gathered to celebrate their union.
Donations in lieu of gifts have been pledged to Hebburn Helps.
Before her retirement, Josie worked for the NHS in IT support and Eddie was an electrician, last working on a contract for BT.
Josie says her work with the Friends was a “life saver” after the loss of Bill and has helped her make a difference to the hundreds of visitors to the shop each week.
"We were introduced by a mutual friend in August 2020 as we were coming out of lockdown, when the shop had been closed for 19 months due to COVID.
"I told him that once it was all finished, he wouldn’t see much of me because I would be busy again, so he said ‘Well, I’ll come and join you in the shop’.
"All the volunteers think he’s great and he’s been a huge help since ordering moved online.
"I’m 74 and Eddie is 79 and it just shows you can find love again. Both families are pleased for us and get along very well, which is lovely."
"I’m so pleased our friend played matchmaker, it’s the best decision I ever made and we’re so happy.
"I’m grateful to Michelle Grogan for bringing us together and we’re over the moon both families have welcomed each of us into their lives. The volunteers have all be very supportive too."
Ken Bremner MBE is the Chief Executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.
"We wish Josie and Eddie our congratulations and many years of happiness ahead following their wedding.
"Our volunteers devote their time and support for us and make our Trust a better place for our patients, those who are visiting them and our colleagues too and we are grateful for everything they do for us.
"It is wonderful to know Josie and Eddie work together as part of this. I know everyone will join us in sending their best wishes to the happy couple."
Anyone interested in volunteering for the League of Friends of South Tyneside District Hospital can pop in to chat to one of the team and fill in a form.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust also runs a volunteer scheme, with more information available by clicking here.