A couple have been left "broken" after their plans to marry on their anniversary were shattered by the coronavirus outbreak.
Derek Nally, 36, and Gemma Stubbs, 30, were set to tie the knot on Saturday, 13 years to the day they first met.
But they have now decided to cancel due to the flu-like virus which is now causing a global health emergency.
Derek, who is from Great Barr in Pheasey, West Midlands, said the realisation their big day might not go ahead dawned on them after Prime Minister's press conference on Monday, where he asked the country to begin practising social distancing.
"That was the moment we realised we would have to rethink," he explained.
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"We could have put a buffet out and people could look around and think ‘I’m going to get coronavirus’."
"Also the photographer is pregnant. She was originally quite happy to go forward, but when they said that pregnant woman was at risk, she cancelled."
Derek, who works in the manufacturing industry and Gemma, a primary school cleaner, say they are devastated by the delay.
They had chosen their wedding day to coincide not only with the anniversary of their first date in 2007, but seven years since Gemma said 'yes' to Derek's proposal in August 2012.
The couple – who have three children – were first introduced by Gemma's mother, who met Derek at a social club he used to run.
"I met her mother first and we got on very well and she brought her daughter in to meet me," Derek continued.
"We're broken. It has hit us both pretty bad.
"I think last night when we threw in the towel, there was a sense of relief, but also the realisation that all our hard work has been for nothing.
"I’m not going to say I’m depressed and ready to jump off a bridge, but it is definitely affecting my mood.
"I tried to tell my mum last night and she was in bits. Just thinking about it again has given me goosebumps."
But the couple are taking it all their stride and say they have no hard feelings.
"The people we spoke to have been really understanding of the situation – I have to give them credit," Derek said.
"They have offered not to charge us again if we can find a day that works for all of us.
"I definitely don’t blame the government. They are trying to put a plan in place for something that’s never happened before.
"When the advice was ‘wash your hands and sing happy birthday’, I was over the moon.
"Boris is going to get a lot of criticism for not closing down the pubs and clubs where we were going to have our after party sooner, but I can see them all being cancelled."
What is the latest government advice on coronavirus?
The government has advised the British public to:
- Avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants and all social gatherings
- Cease all unnecessary travel
- Everyone should work from home where possible
- Mass gatherings and sporting events have been cancelled
- Avoid “all but essential travel” to more than 30 countries
If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
Pregnant women, those over 70, and people with certain health conditions have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks
Schools will remain open
The couple are now hoping they can rearrange their wedding for their next anniversary – even though this would mean waiting another year.
"Personally, it is not something we discussed just yet, but my plan B would be to do it next year," Derek added.
"Aim for the anniversary again but it just means waiting another year."
The UK now has 2,626 confirmed cases of coronavirus after 676 more patients were diagnosed with the potentially deadly illness in the biggest day-on-day increase so far.
At least 72 people have died. Scotland announced its third death on Wednesday, and the Department of Health is expected to announce the UK's updated toll later.
The number of infected people is likely far higher, with health experts estimating that about 55,000 people could be carrying the disease amid pledges to carry out more widespread testing.
The latest infection total was announced after Scotland and Wales said they were closing all schools from Friday.
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