Lee-on-the-Solent woman keeps husband's legacy alive after they married at QA hospital five hours before his death

Kim and Peter exchanging rings at their wedding ceremony. Credit: QA Hospital.Kim and Peter exchanging rings at their wedding ceremony. Credit: QA Hospital.
Kim and Peter exchanging rings at their wedding ceremony. Credit: QA Hospital. | Other 3rd Party
Of all the romantic wedding venues couples dream of tying the knot at, a hospital ward is certainly not one of them.

But sadly for Kim Bristow, from Lee-on-the-Solent, this is what happened on October 25, 2019, at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

She married the love of her life, talented artist Peter Hammond, five hours before he died.

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‘It was an emotional rollercoaster,’ says Kim, 71, a retired electrical engineer.

Kim Bristow with some their wedding cards. Picture: Sarah Standing (210220-5948)Kim Bristow with some their wedding cards. Picture: Sarah Standing (210220-5948)
Kim Bristow with some their wedding cards. Picture: Sarah Standing (210220-5948) | JPIMedia Resell

‘But I’m glad we did. I treated it as dying man’s last wish.’

Peter and Kim had been together for 15 years and he had proposed many times. But it wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that Kim agreed to the idea.

She explains: ‘He’d asked me many times over the years and I had said no. I didn’t see the need for a bit of paper and I didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of changing my name.

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‘I saw it as being unnecessary, we were quite happy and together for nearly 15 years.’

Kim Bristow and her husband Peter Hammond on a cruise in 2008.Kim Bristow and her husband Peter Hammond on a cruise in 2008.
Kim Bristow and her husband Peter Hammond on a cruise in 2008. | Other 3rd Party

Kim and Peter, who was originally from Yorkshire, met online via MSN in 2005 and chatted frequently.

She explains: ‘A friend of mine in Lincoln was getting married and I said to Peter that I would come up and see him in East Yorkshire.

‘One of the things going on in the background was that Peter really didn’t want to be at home for Christmas so he said, “let’s go off to Lanzarote for two weeks”.

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‘I always treated it as a joke but when I got up there, we chatted for a while and then he took me to the travel agents.

‘He found a package he liked and took out his cheque book and bought it.

‘So I was off to Lanzarote for two weeks with Peter over Christmas and New Year.

‘I said that if we got on okay over those two weeks, either I move up there or he moves down here. He decided to move to Lee in 2006.’

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They were very happy together for more than a decade but Peter’s health started deteriorating in August 2019.

‘We were visiting a neighbour’s bungalow and Peter fell up the step. He said almost straight away that he thought he’d damaged his ribs,’ she says.

‘From that point he stopped sleeping in bed and started sleeping in the chair in the front room.’

This went on for weeks, says Kim, and she was up almost every night looking after him as he started to develop pressure sores from sitting down.

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‘I decided to get our GP involved, who then got the district nurses and social services involved.’

During September, Kim recalls multiple nurses calling at their bungalow in Lee to take Peter’s blood samples. He was told to go to hospital, and after much refusal, he eventually went.

When Kim arrived at hospital, the consultant came to see them both.

‘He said he had some bad news. I interrupted him saying that Peter might not want to hear it, but I did. Peter didn’t say anything, so the news was given to both of us,’ adds Kim.

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Peter had a primary tumour in his bowel, with several secondaries in his lungs and liver. Kim says she knew at that point Peter had months, if not weeks, to live.

‘He came home for a week. He was pestering nurses to get out,’ says Kim.

‘It was very difficult and he was being sick all the time.’

A week before he died, Peter was in his chair and told Kim something she will never forget.

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‘I sat down next to him and he said “I think I nearly slipped away last night”. Well, what do you say to that?

‘He said he was frightened. I said it’s something we’re all a bit frightened of. He was a Pagan, so I told him about the spirits he believed in. All you can do is treat it as the next big adventure.

‘While we were having that conversation, he said “will you marry me?”. I said “yes, but sadly I think we’ve left it all too late now”.’

The following day Peter was admitted to hospital. When Kim went in to see him, hospital staff told her the first thing Peter had told them was that he wanted to get married.

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Kim says: ‘I was told they were arranging a blessing for us to comply with Peter's wishes. I was completely surprised, it was the first I had heard of it.

‘The blessing ceremony was absolutely brilliant. The staff really pulled out all the stops.’

The hospital’s chaplin told Kim that if she went to Portsmouth Register Office to get the marriage certificate, they could make it legal later that day.

On October 25, 2019, Peter and Kim married at QA Hospital, surrounded by hospital staff.

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‘They made cupcakes, bought posies and confetti for us,’ says Kim, as she looks at these beloved items which take pride of place in her living room. Peter was still quite with it but I could see he was in a lot of pain. I knew he didn't have long.’

Five hours later, Peter died.

Kim says: ‘I found life very difficult afterwards but friends and neighbours have been very supportive.’

Fiercely proud of her husband’s talents, Kim is highlighting his legacy through his art. ‘It’s extremely important to me.’

LEGACY: ‘It sadden’s me that Peter’s art isn’t seen...’

‘Peter always loved art’, says Kim. And she is determined to show the world his work.

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She reflects: ‘In 1980, after studying at Batley School of Art and Design, Peter began pencil and ink sketches of the industrial landscape so familiar to him.

‘He developed many detailed landscapes, painted mostly from drawing and memory, with bold blocks of colour.

‘He did a lot of architectural drawings, that was his style.

‘His art is extremely important to me. It saddens me that it’s not seen, it deserves to be seen.

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‘Peter vowed that no prints of his paintings would ever be made.’

There is only one unfinished painting, from July 2019.

Peter’s artwork has been part of three exhibitions over the past 15 years.

There was one at the Discovery Centre, Gosport, he was an artist-in-residence at some venues, and also hosted an exhibition at his hometown in East Yorkshire called The Homecoming.

Peter’s artworks start at £220 and the drawings are around £40.

There is going to be a 25 per cent off sale of Peter’s artwork for one month online at kimberlieartgallery.co.uk, starting from March 8, 2020.

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