Dad-of-three and Birmingham City fan dies weeks after fulfilling last wish to marry long-term partner

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Paul Jeffries was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May 2017

A dad died just weeks after fulfilling his last wish to marry his long-term partner – after being diagnosed with an 'aggressive' form of brain cancer.

Dad-of-three Paul Jeffries, 40, and his partner, Kelly, 39, had been together for 17 years and had three children together when he popped the question in January 2019. 

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It came after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May 2017 and decided not to waste another minute. With a typical prognosis of just 12 to 18 months, Paul and Kelly started planning their big day but the pandemic meant their plans got cancelled.

Paul defied expectations and lived for a further four years – enduring two craniotomies, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. But when his health declined the couple decided to wed in an intimate ceremony surrounded by their children and three guests at Sutton Coldfield's Lea Marston Hotel.

Paul, a line engineer, from Birmingham, passed away in January 2021 – just three months after his wedding to Kelly.  Kelly, a former cleaner for Royal Mail, said: “We’d previously spoken about marriage and after he was diagnosed he proposed to me. 

Paul Jeffries, 40, and his partner, Kelly, 39 at their weddingPaul Jeffries, 40, and his partner, Kelly, 39 at their wedding
Paul Jeffries, 40, and his partner, Kelly, 39 at their wedding | Frily’s Boutique / SWNS

“We planned it all out and had everything booked but then Covid restrictions saw our arrangements cancelled.  It was our wish to marry before he died and as Paul became really poorly, we were able to get married with special circumstances.”

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The couple’s three children – Leah, 18, Josh, 16, and Charlie, 10 – wore blue on the big day in a nod to Paul’s beloved Birmingham City FC. Kelly described the day as “truly the best under the circumstances”.

She said: “I was emotional throughout but having Paul by my side was so special and to be married was what we both wanted.”

According to Brain Tumour Research, just 12 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour like Paul’s survive beyond five years. Although Kelly researched different options to “help prolong his life”, Paul never made it to the London clinical trial that he was put forward for. 

Kelly took care of him in his dying weeks as his condition grew progressively worse.  Kelly added: “Paul quickly lost mobility on the left side of his body which meant he dragged his foot.

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“Before seeing a loved one experience a brain tumour, I never understood what exactly it meant. I wish I still didn’t.

Paul and his family at St Andrew'sPaul and his family at St Andrew's
Paul and his family at St Andrew's | SWNS

“We were unsuspecting victims of brain cancer and had to navigate our way through a terminal diagnosis where there is a huge lack of investment into research."

Kelly shared her story in a bid to raise awareness for Brain Tumour Research. Taking place on Friday 29 March, the charity’s annual Wear A Hat Day fundraiser encourages people to don their favourite hat to raise money for life-saving brain cancer research. 

Katrina Jones, head of community fundraising at Brain Tumour Research, said: “While Paul’s story is heartbreaking, we’re grateful to Kelly for taking the time to share it with us.”

According to the charity, 16,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year. To donate to the annual Wear A Hat Day for Brain Tumour Research visit: www.braintumourresearch.com

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