Couple spend final hours together on 66th anniversary

Image source, Bilton family
Image caption,
Mary and Ron Bilton were married for 66 years

A dying couple were moved to the same hospital ward so they could spend their final hours together holding hands on their 66th wedding anniversary.

Ron Bilton, 89, and his wife Mary, 86, were in different departments at Hull Royal infirmary after he suffered multi-organ failure and she had cancer.

Staff allowed Mrs Bilton, who was nine floors below, to be by his bedside before his death. She died days later.

Nurses said they were determined to help them be together "at the end".

The couple, who spent more than two thirds of their lives together and were from Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire, were buried together.

Image source, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption,
Rosie Featherstone and Ellis Howard organised for Mary Bilton to spend time with the man she "shared her life with before he slipped away"

Sister Rosie Featherstone said: "We were determined to do everything we could so they could be together at the end.

"We know it made a real difference to Mrs Bilton that she could be with him and she was able to sit in a wheelchair at the side of his bed holding his hand before he died.

"We were all crying when Mr Bilton died but glad we could help them be together.

"Everyone on the ward worked as a team to make it happen."

Staff learnt from the couple's granddaughter that Mrs Bilton, who was in the final stages of cancer, had been admitted to the hospital's Elderly Assessment Unit after her husband, who was in a ward in the Department of Elderly Medicine.

When Mr Bilton's condition deteriorated "so rapidly", Sister Featherstone and colleague Ellis Howard organised for neighbouring patients on his ward to be moved safely to other areas so his wife could be moved into a nearby bed.

Senior Matron Stacey Healand praised the nurses and added: "We're very proud of what the team achieved on behalf of Mr and Mrs Bilton and their family."

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