A COUPLE who are soon to celebrate their diamond anniversary will renew their wedding vows two months early — after husband Ellis Coakley was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The former plumbing engineer gave his wife of 59 years the shock of her life when he “proposed” the idea — following his diagnosis last summer.

The 84-year-old did not quite get down on one knee but still left his wife, Ellen, and staff at Farnworth Care Home surprised with his romantic gesture.

Mrs Coakley, aged 82, said: “I was shocked when I found out that Ellis was planning on renewing our wedding vows, but it will be a lovely day.

“It’s been hard watching Ellis suffer, because we’ve never been apart. We’ve always been together. We do everything together.

“But now we’re in this situation, we’ve just got on with it.

“All the staff at the home have been great — I can’t thank them enough for the help they’ve given us.”

Mr Coakley said: “I had planned this years ago, but it fell by the wayside. This is the celebration we always said we’d do and I’m really looking forward to it.

“My wife and family have been brilliant — they have always supported me and I’d be lost without them.

“The staff at the home have gone to so much trouble for me since the day I moved in. I’m very grateful to them.”

The celebration will take place this Sunday at the care home in Church Street, where the couple moved earlier this year from Over Hulton.

The couple were married on May 8, 1954, at St Sebastian Church in Pendleton, Salford.

They have two daughters, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Daughter, Adrianne Hilton, aged 53, said: “It will be a great occasion — it’s a lovely idea.

“There will be mixed emotions on the day, but we’re going to try and make it as special as we can.”

Jacinta Hodgson, activities co-ordinator at the home, said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard about it — it’s very sweet. I’m absolutely over the moon, I’m really chuffed for them.”

Before they retired, Mr Coakley was a plumbing engineer while Mrs Coakley worked as a machinist in a coat factory.

The pair moved from Salford to Westhoughton 30 years ago, before moving to Over Hulton, where they lived for the last 18 years, before their most recent move to Farnworth.