A TERMINALLY ill man will marry his fiancée at the place they first met, after being told he has months to live.

Richard Hardingham, 31, and Kayleigh Pelosi, 29, have been together for 12 years and have six children between the ages of five months and 12.

Richard was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer last year, and in February he discovered the disease had spread to his liver and lungs.

He was given just 12 months to live.

Richard, from Colchester, said: "In June last year I was really ill, I went to A&E and they told me it was a stomach bug and it was nothing to worry about.

"I then had a five month battle with my doctors as I knew what it was, but they told me I was too young to have cancer.

"I had known all along it was cancer."

Last month Gift of a Wedding, a charity organising weddings for people with a terminal or life-shortening illness, put the wheels in motion to let the couple use Colchester Castle as a backdrop for their big day.

Its founder, Patricia Harrison, approached Colchester Events Company and they had less than four weeks to arrange a civil wedding ceremony and reception at the sought-after venue.

The wedding is taking place on Friday.

Mr Hardingham said: "We were always planning to get married, but we always put family holidays first as the children have always come first.

"It was a friend of Kayleigh's who told us about Gift of a Wedding. The castle staff were really nice in letting us use the venue.

"We have had a say in everything, everyone has been really generous and it has come together really well."

There is a poignant reason why the castle was chosen as a venue.

Mr Hardingham added: "Colchester Castle is special to us not only because it is where we had our first date, but when I was younger and lived 60 miles away at the other end of Essex, I would often visit it and decided Colchester would be the place I would love to live when I was older.

"Little did I know my dream would come true only a few months later, when I moved there with my mum, brothers and sister.

"From that moment on, I felt at home and settled very quickly.

"In 2005, I met Kayleigh and fell deeply in love, and we went on to make a beautiful family together.

"Colchester, and especially the castle, is a very sentimental place for us."

Suppliers such as Interior Floral Design and Jamie Lee Smith Catering are gifting their services to couple despite the short notice.

Embellish Events, Luxury and Classic Wedding Cars and Bronzey’s Music Company have also helped out.

Nick Barlow, councillor responsible or commercial services, said the council was proud to have been able to support the occasion.

He added: "The event will hopefully be an incredibly special day for Richard and Kayleigh, and their guests, creating wonderful and lasting memories."