Doctor and nurse tie the knot in hospital

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Doctor and nurse marry at St Thomas' chapel

A nurse and doctor who had to cancel their wedding due to the coronavirus outbreak have got married at the same hospital where they both work.

Jann Tipping, 34, and Annalan Navaratnam, 30, tied the knot at the end of April in the Grade 2 listed chapel at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The couple had planned to marry in August in London, but decided to cancel due to fears over their families being able to travel there safely from Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.

Rather than postpone the event, the pair, from Tulse Hill in south London, wanted to get married as soon as possible with their guests being able to watch remotely.

They asked the hospital’s chaplaincy team if it was possible to have a private wedding ceremony in the chapel, which has features dating back to when St Thomas’ opened on its current site opposite the Houses of Parliament in 1870.

Jann, an ambulatory emergency nurse, 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, which took place on Friday 24 April, was held by Revd Mia Hilborn, head of spiritual healthcare at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, with only Revd Hilborn, Jann, Annalan and two witnesses inside the chapel.

Jann said: “It was nice being just us, it felt very intimate. One of our witnesses live streamed the service so our friends and family could watch.

“It was a lovely wedding and the chapel is beautiful, although it did feel surreal getting married where we work, and in a hospital. St Thomas’ is such a special place to us both, and especially to me, having been here for the last six years. Now there is an extra reason why it’s so important to us.”

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

Jann said: “We had a beautiful wedding day which we will always remember. It was a nice thing to happen in the middle of an anxious time. We’re so grateful to the chaplaincy team who went the extra mile to make it possible.”

Annalan, an acute medical registrar who has been working at St Thomas’ for one year, added:  “Jann and I wanted to get married from the moment I proposed. We're so happy that we have been able to commit ourselves to one another and that the hospital has been able to support us to do that.”

Revd Hilborn said: “At such a challenging time for staff, as chaplains we strive to offer as much support as we can. We know how upsetting it is to need to delay big celebratory events such as weddings so we are happy to talk to any staff who need to postpone their wedding to see how we can help.

“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.”

Last updated: March 2022

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