Bride counts her blessings as father who was given last rites two weeks ago walks her up the aisle
A bride whose father was given the last rites when he collapsed from a heart attack two weeks before her wedding has said she would have refused to walk down the aisle without him.
Paddy Watson was watching son Liam play in the Antrim hurling semi-final between Loughgiel and Cushendall on September 13 when he began to feel unwell.
The 55-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph he was feeling weak shortly before the second half of the game in Dunloy.
Paddy collapsed with the coronary just a few minutes after half-time and immediately the crowd snapped into action, calling for an ambulance.
Luckily the Dunloy clubhouse had its own defibrillator and medics including the Cushendall club doctor Eddie McCormack were able to save Paddy's life as son Liam watched on.
Speaking after her wedding, Brenda (26) said there was no way she would have gone ahead with the big day without her dad by her side.
She said: "When we were up at the Royal [Hospital in Belfast] a fortnight ago and daddy was in a bad way I genuinely thought the wedding wouldn't go ahead.
"I couldn't have done it without him, it wouldn't have been right."
But the family were counting their blessings this weekend as Brenda married her partner of five years, Martin Dobbin, from Cloughmills, on Saturday morning.
The marriage was celebrated at the Tullyglass House Hotel in Ballymena where a fit-for-action Paddy delivered his heartfelt father-of-the-bride speech. But there were no tears from either Brenda or Paddy on the emotional day as the pair were so pleased the wedding had gone ahead.
Paddy said: "When I was lying up in the Royal two weeks ago all I could think about was my wee girl's wedding day and how I might miss it.
"I didn't know if I would be well enough to be there, let alone walk her down the aisle and give a speech.
"I went to the doctor last week and he told me it would be fine to go ahead with the wedding so long as I didn't stress myself out over the speech too much.
"I wanted to be able to get up and thank everyone who turned out and made the day so special for her and I wanted to welcome Martin into our family properly. Thankfully I was able to do that."
Brenda and Paddy were taken from their home in Loughgiel to the morning service by a "magical" horse and carriage arranged as a surprise for the bride by husband-to-be.
Brenda said: "The whole day was perfect from start to finish and my daddy made it extra-special for us, he looked so well considering what he's been through and how stressful weddings can be.
"We were so glad he was able to go and I was over the moon that he walked me up the aisle and did his speech as planned, he was even able to dance with me.
"As I walked into the church on Saturday morning I gripped his arm and looked straight ahead so I didn't catch anyone's eye and start crying, it was just me and him until I got up to Marty.
"I'm normally such an emotional person but I couldn't shed one tear because I was so pleased the wedding was going ahead and daddy was alive and well."
Following Paddy's heart attack Brenda made the decision to make the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke charity part of her big day.
"We made a donation as part of our celebrations and had the little Chest, Heart and Stroke logo on our place settings so everyone knew we were supporting them," she added.
"The Antrim GAA also raised thousands of pounds on the gate at the rearranged semi-final game after it was called off because of daddy's collapse."
Brenda's brother Liam, who is a former All-Star nominee, has called on local clubs to come together and make it a priority that defibrillators are at every game.