Bride told she wouldn't live past 30 defies all odds to get out wheelchair and walk down the aisle
A bride who thought she wouldn't live to see her wedding day reduced her guests to tears as she was able to stand up from her wheelchair and walk down the aisle.
When Natalie Nowak was born with cerebral palsy, doctors told her parents that she would never be able to lead a normal life.
But just last month, the 32-year-old was able to step out of her wheelchair, take her dad's arm and walk down the aisle to marry her soulmate.
The emotional ceremony, held at St John’s Church in Ainsdale last month, was attended by more than 100 family, friends and NHS staff who have cared for Natalie in the past, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Her fiancé, Andy, 32, had only ever seen Natalie walk a few steps and in his emotional wedding speech said: "Angels have wings, but my angel has wheels." the Mirror reports.
Incredibly, less than a year after spinal surgery, she managed to stand throughout the whole of their first dance, to Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me, before partying on the dancefloor in her wheelchair until the early hours.
As the remarkable 32-year-old joined her groom at the altar, she proved, yet again, she really had defied all the odds.
And Andy is not the only person to be amazed by gritty, determined Natalie. During her inspiring life she has befriended Olly Murs and even climbed to the top of London’s O2 dome with the singer to help her raise £30,000 for charity on her 30th birthday.
Olly, 38, told the Sunday Mirror: “She invited me to join her and I am so glad we got to do this together. I was so proud of her and her attitude to life. Natalie is such a remarkable woman who achieves so much – nothing is a problem to her, she just gets on with things.”
Natalie says: “I just want to inspire anyone else out there to never, ever give up. The love and support I’ve been given over the years, it’s priceless.”
Recalling her daughter’s big day, mum Sally Preston says: “Natalie had only ever managed a few short steps since Andy had known her – for her to walk the full length of the church on the biggest day of her life, well, it was simply perfect. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church, and the look on Andy’s face was simply priceless.”
Natalie, who works at the BBC, says: “Andy is the kindest, most thoughtful person I could ever hope to meet, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him on our many adventures. I’ve had such an amazing life and love telling people my story, hoping to inspire others to live life to the full."
But when Natalie was born, Sally, 65, and Natalie’s dad Lawrence, a retired company director, 71, were told by doctors that such a life would never be possible.
After taking nearly a year to get a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, former nursery nurse Sally was told by a consultant paediatrician that she “would never be able to enjoy her life”.
On being told the diagnosis, after seeing a specialist physiotherapist, Sally and Lawrence say they were in complete shock.
Sally says: “We were ushered into a separate room with a consultant paediatrician who was really quite brutal with her prognosis – she told us Natalie would never walk, talk or sit up.
"Being told our daughter’s life was over before it had begun was simply horrific – and we knew they were wrong.”
Sally and Lawrence refused to give up on Natalie, even when they were told the devastating news that their daughter could be dead by the age of 30 without corrective surgery that could leave her paralysed. With no hospital support, Sally tried doing physiotherapy on her daughter and prayed for a breakthrough.
Then, two years later, she came across Brainwave, a charity which helps children and their families with neurological disorders. Within months the tot started crawling and, before she was even three years old, took her first step.
Soon she started saying words and, before long, she was admitted to her local mainstream primary school. After leaving school with nine GCSEs, she developed a curve of her spine and had to undergo major surgery – which involved fusing her spine and inserting supportive rods either side of her vertebrae.
Unstoppable Natalie recovered and went on to complete her master’s degree before landing her dream job at the BBC in Salford, where she works on contracts and social media.
Then, in 2018, Natalie met her boyfriend office administrator Andy Nowak, on an online dating app. Natalie has everything to thank her parents for. She says: “When I was growing up, my parents never told me I was different or disabled.
“They always brought me up to believe in myself, that I could do anything. It might take a bit longer than it would for other people, but never give up.”
Andy says of his new wife: “Natalie's love for life and positivity is contagious – I have to pinch myself that she’s now my wife. It feels like I’ve won the lottery”.