A disabled woman struck down with a debilitating illness has walked for the first time in ten years – on her wedding day.
Jessica Taylor was struck down 11 years ago with myalgic encephalopathy which meant she spent 95 per cent of her time stuck in bed or confined to a wheelchair.
But the 26-year-old was inspired to embark on a gruelling course of physiotherapy when Samuel Bearman, 25, got down on one knee.
On Saturday Jessica held her father Colin’s arm as she walked down the aisle without her chair at St Philip and St James Church in Upnor, Kent.
Despite intense physiotherapy Jessica almost fainted several times in the church and described her mission to walk down the aisle unaided as “a big ask”.
She said: “I was determined to do it. Once I have decided something, I put my all into it. I had to make it happen.
“It was so worth it. Samuel was very proud of me.”
Jessica, from Cliffe Woods, Kent, was just 14 when she was diagnosed with ME but a year later she became too ill to go to school and had to be cared for by mum Kate at the family home.
She since spent much of her time in and out of hospital and has developed numerous complications, including osteoporosis which left her bones weak.
But when Samuel popped the question last year Jessica was on a mission to build up her strength and muscles for her big day.
At the time Jessica, who has already found her dress, said: “We became friends first and then fell in love.
“It was a total surprise when he got down on one knee, we were on our own at home and it was very romantic.
“He got me a diamond engagement ring and it was a really special moment, my dreams came true.
“My family are over the moon about it, they really like Samuel.
The pair became friends and then lovers after Samuel tagged along with a mutual friend to visit Jessica in her bed.
The loved-up pair fell for each other instantly, and pretty soon he was joining her on a daily basis.
Jessica, explained how she was determined to walk down the aisle adding: “This is the next chapter of my life and I am so excited about it.
“I am going to work so hard on my physiotherapy so I can learn to walk down the aisle and enjoy the whole day.
“With my illness I never could walk but my bone density is getting better and I am trying to take my first steps.
“It was always my plan to get better and I want to make the most of my life and our life together.”
Family friend and vicar Sue Vallente-Kerr told the congregation on Saturday: “It is an amazing privilege to marry this couple and amazing to see Jessica walk down the aisle. I can see a few teary eyes out there.”
After the service, her proud mum Kate said: “She is truly inspirational.”
The couple are planning to go on a cruise of the Norwegian fjords for their honeymoon.