Having to cancel or postpone wedding plans due to COVID-19 has become commonplace during the last few years. In fact, New Zealand PM Ardern has postponed her wedding amid the Omicron surge.
Good News Shared hears from Sagar who has beta thalassaemia and is a member of UKTS, the national charity for thalassaemia.
Thalassaemia is a lifelong, genetic blood condition. People with thalassaemia produce insufficient haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. As a result, they need monthly blood transfusions to stay alive. With more effective screening – in other words, more people being tested to see if they are carriers of thalassaemia – this inherited condition could actually be eradicated.
Where do you live and what do you do professionally?
I was born and brought up in North West London and lived there most of my life. I still get my treatment at the same hospital I was born at, by the amazing Day Care & Haematology team at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal. I moved out of London to Hemel Hempstead to buy my first house in 2018.
I work in the Sports & Leisure industry, helping to manage the contract for the central London leisure centres, pools, gyms and outdoor recreation grounds owned by Westminster City Council. I’m passionate about what I do, as I know from personal experience just how important and beneficial it is to try and keep as active as possible, no matter what level of physical health you may have.
When did you get married?
My wife and I (that word still makes me smile!) were over the moon to finally get married on the 3rd of July 2021, 364 days later than originally planned. Like many couples around the world, our wedding plans got postponed by Covid-19. We had planned to have around 120 people present to enjoy a lovely Yorkshire wedding, but unfortunately, after months of planning and booking, everything got put on hold in March 2020 as the world came to a halt. After months of not knowing, we set a revised date and were lucky that we managed to get (most of) our money back from our suppliers or were able to rebook, something that many other couples weren’t able to do. With that said though, money didn’t seem the priority with everything that was happening in 2020. We were just thankful that our original wedding date was the only casualty and we remained very cautious whilst I was put on the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable list.
We did get a bit impatient at one point, and decided to arrange a registry wedding, however just two days before we were due to marry on the 21st of December at Marylebone Town Hall in Westminster, the country was put under Christmas lockdown! After the tears and anger, we ate the wedding cake that my in-laws had made, and drank the celebratory beers to console ourselves!
Describe the wedding day and how you felt!
Leading up to the wedding date, we were still unsure as to how many people would be allowed as restrictions were only just easing. We decided to err on the side of caution (having had been burnt before!) and restricted the guestlist to just 30 of our closest family & friends.
Unfortunately, my mum, Jolly Barua, was really unwell in the days beforehand, and we were really worried that she would be too ill to make it to the wedding. We even considered postponing again, but in the end, we were delighted and totally grateful that she did manage to make it to our special day. Mum had pestered me from almost the very first time she’d met Laura for me to propose to her, so it meant the absolute world to us, and to her, to see us get married.
We were married at a ceremony at my in-laws, Adam & Claire Clark’s, local church, All Saints Church in Ilkley, Yorkshire. We also hired a beautiful yurt for the reception party afterwards. The whole day was so beautiful, and in the end, the intimate wedding ceremony and reception felt more special than I could ever have imagined. With the beauty of technology, we even live streamed the whole event on YouTube for our friends & family to watch from anywhere in the world. There were watching parties taking place in Canada, India & Ireland! After the church ceremony, we had an auto rikshaw (tuk-tuk) drive us away in style, a nod to my Bengali Indian heritage!
Tell me a bit about your wife and how you met?
My wife, Laura Clark (not yet Laura Barua officially!), is a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, funny and caring partner with an absolute heart of gold. A Yorkshire lass from oop north – we met whilst Laura was working at Westminster City Council, (we actually met at the local pub near work!) I knew some of her colleagues and when they introduced us, we got chatting and instantly hit it off. After a few (not so chance) meetings at after-work gatherings, I think she realised how much I liked her when I showed up to congratulate her after she’d run the London Marathon! I’m so, so lucky to have found someone that is so understanding of my health issues but pushes and supports me to achieve and do more than I think I can. She’s genuinely my best friend and my family absolutely adore her… sometimes I think more than they do me!
Did you go on honeymoon? If so, where? If not, do you have one planned?
We managed to get away to the north coast of Scotland for our honeymoon, and even took our three-legged rescue dog, Oreo along with us! We hired a beautiful VW campervan, with all the mod-cons including gas stove, fridge, running water & electricity and enjoyed almost 2 weeks of no work e-mails!! We drove all the way from Ilkley in Yorkshire, via Northumberland and then up the east coast of the highlands, past John O’Groats (the most northerly point in the UK) and then across and down the stunning west coast of Scotland. We were so lucky with the weather, enjoying beautiful sunshine to go with the white sandy beaches that some of our photos could be mistaken for the Maldives! We tragically had to cut our honeymoon short though when we got the message whilst we were on the Isle of Skye, that my dear mum had taken a turn for the worst and was not doing well in hospital. We managed to get back, and I was grateful to be able to spend some time with my mum in hospital, despite all of the Covid restrictions. My beautiful, wonderful mum, who had taken me to all of my hospital appointments & transfusions growing up, who slept by my side when I had my splenectomy and had constantly looked after me with all the love and affection you could ever want, sadly passed away the next day, just 15 days after my wedding day.
How is married life?
As you can imagine, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. The high of the wedding day and the amazing time we had with all of our nearest and dearest, the amazing time we had on our honeymoon and then the struggle knowing that my dear mum is no longer here to see me settle into married life. I’ll be eternally grateful that she made it to our wedding, and to the rest of my family, friends, and Laura’s amazing family for all the support I’ve had. And I’m also grateful that I was able to get back in time to see her one last time before she passed away. But I can’t help think about all the things that we will have to experience without her. Laura has been amazing throughout and been so supportive, but I also realise that she is mourning, and missing her regular chats with mum too. We will miss all the special times together, but I also know that a piece of her lives on. She has always taught me to strive to be good and do good as well as to be the best I can be. Laura and I would love to have children one day, and I hope we can be half as good a parent as Mum was to me.
To find out more about thalassaemia and the work of UKTS, click here.