The company which runs Shenley Cricket Club (SCC) has refused to give a full refund to a couple who had to cancel their wedding due to the groom’s terminal illness.
Martin McMullan, 36, and Lindsay Grice, 33, from Welwyn Garden City, planned to get married at SCC on November 1, but they were forced to cancel the event when the groom’s terminal cancer began to rapidly spread, leaving him bedridden.
They cancelled their big day 10 days before November 1, with Lindsay’s father, Paul, having already paid London Shenley Club (LSC), which runs the cricket club, £6,400.
Despite the extreme circumstances in which the couple were forced to cancel, LSC has held onto £4,600 of Paul’s money, returning just £1,800 for the couple in what the company described as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Martin ended up marrying Lindsay, his partner of 10 years, from his bed at Lister Hospital in Stevenage on Tuesday, October 26. He passed away just over a week later, on Saturday, November 6.
Martin’s father-in-law, Paul Grice, says his problem with LSC is moralistic rather than monetary, and told RADLETTnews that he “doesn’t know how they (LSC) sleep at night”.
He explained: “It’s shameful practice. I would have even settled for 50 per cent back – but this shocked me. They knew about his illness, because we had to move the date forward from next year when we found out the extent of his cancer.
“They’ve got in the contract that if you don’t cancel a month in advance, you don’t get refunded – but they knew how ill he was. They had a meeting with him recently where they could see that – he was so cold, he had to go and sit in the car. They were even putting things in place to help him manage on the day of the wedding.
“We didn’t want to cancel the day completely because Martin was so desperate to make it – I think that’s probably the main driving force which kept him going for as long as he did.
“They said they won’t refund us because they already paid the caterers and because they can’t rehire on the dates we booked – well the original booking wasn’t until next year, so that would leave plenty of time.
“In terms of the caterers, I’d love to see a receipt. Technically, I paid for their services, and I’ve not been offered them. For all they know, I would have given the food I’ve paid for to a food bank.”
While Paul is resigned to the fact he will most likely not get his money back, he hopes others looking to book venues will use this story as a motive to negotiate better contracts.
He said: “This is an issue that should be highlighted not just because we’ve suffered, but because it’s a very poor clause in a contract that people accept as they don’t want to lose their desired venue.
“We should question it – we should demand more rights and at the very least, agree a fair figure if the wedding falls through in circumstances like this.”
An LSC spokesperson said: “It was with sadness that we received the news from Mr and Mrs Grice that Lindsay and Martin would not be able to go ahead with their wedding, due to Martin’s deteriorating health.
“As a result of the cancellation just 10 days before the due date, the venue has been liable for the cost of the wedding food, which had been ordered and paid for and which is not recoverable.
“The venue has moved the date on three occasions and the last two changes have left the venue with two unbooked dates and as a consequence, lost revenue for those dates. This at a time when the wedding and catering industry is severely affected by the impact of the pandemic.
“Bearing all this in mind, the venue none the less did not seek to rely on its cancellation terms and conditions, under which the entire cost would normally have been retained on a cancellation less than a month before the date. Instead, Shenley reimbursed the sum of £1,800.”
Despite the struggles with their original booking, Martin and Lindsay were able to make the most of their improvised wedding day on October 26.
Staff at the hospital worked with Martin, who had been in the hospital for a week prior to the wedding, and Lindsay’s families to ensure that it was a very special day, with decorations, food, and wedding photos.
Specialist staff checked arrangements and were present at the event to ensure it was COVID-safe.
On the day, Martin said: “After 10 years together, we’re so happy to finally be married!”
While Lindsay added: “We grew up together and have known each other our whole lives – we’re so happy.”
Nick Carver, chief executive of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “I’m so pleased that Lindsay and Martin were able to celebrate their special day – and I would like to convey the congratulations of all of the hospital’s staff.”
Martin and Lindsay passed on their thanks to Tracy Maryan, lead acute oncology specialist, ward manager Suzanne Gilroy and everyone involved in making the wedding possible.
Paul pointed out the contrast between the hospital’s treatment of the couple and LSC’s, saying: “The hospital staff were absolutely incredible – they set everything up themselves and did everything they could to make the day special.”