An eight-year-old boy who had battled cancer for half of his life 'married' his school sweetheart - before telling his mother 'I can go now' and dying just hours later.
Reece Fleming refused to give in to leukaemia until he had fulfilled his wish of a mock wedding to his special friend Elleanor Pursglove.
The two children, who had been friends for years, had taken part in an emotional ceremony in Reece's front room in which he handed his 'bride' a red rose.
The young couple: Elleanor Pursglove in her wedding dress, with ReeceFleming in his favourite shirt. Reece died the next day.
The wedding was the last on a list of ambitions Reece had vowed to realise before his death - including a rides in a Ferrari and a Porsche, spending a day at a fire station and holding a pirate-themed party for friends.
His wish-list echoed the plot of the recent Hollywood blockbuster The Bucket List, in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play terminally ill patients who fulfill a series of dreams before they die.
Reece's mother told how he had fallen ill in July 2004, before undertaking gruelling sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
After he was given just weeks to live, brave Reece popped the question one more time - and Elleanor accepted.
On the list: Reece's dream of riding a Ferrari was granted
Lorraine, 28, said: "When we found out that we only had a few weeks with him we tried to do absolutely everything with him that we could.
"He and Elleanor had been good friends for years, and he always said he wanted to marry her. It was something he had his heart set on.
"He had asked her a few times, and she finally decided to accept. Their relationship was very strong."
Originally the sweethearts had planned to have a vicar present to guide them through their vows, with Elleanor, also aged eight, arriving by limousine.
Lorraine Fleming holds a treasured picture of Reece's big day
But Reece's condition quickly started to deteriorate and, dressed in his favourite Next shirt, the groom waited patiently at his home, while Elleanor was whisked to his front room for a simple ceremony.
Lorraine, of Mackworth, Derby, said: "I'm sure Reece knew he didn't have long, but he was determined to go ahead with the 'marriage'.
"He said to me: 'Mum, I'm not ready to go yet.' That was how much it meant to him. I knew there and then he really wanted it to happen."
Elleanor donned a wedding dress for the occasion and Reece presented her with a single red rose.
Jack Nicholson plays a cancer sufferer in The Bucket List, who wants to fulfill his wildest dreams before he dies
Lorraine said: "I had managed to hold myself together quite well, but when I saw her coming up the path with her bouquet I had to shed a little tear.
"You can't really describe in words what it was like. Reece and Elleanor were both very quiet, but there was a lot of feeling in the room."
With Elleanor's mother Hannah playing the role of vicar, the youngsters exchanged vows and rings and were even given a marriage certificate.
But "ladies' man" Reece turned gentleman and chose not to kiss the bride - despite earning a reputation as a flirt during his time in hospital.
Lorraine said: "He had a real crush on one of the nurses and was always a bit touchy-feely with her if the chance presented itself.
"In the end she had to tell him she was already engaged - but he was fine with that, because it cleared the way for him to 'marry' Elleanor.
"He was always a real gent and very respectful to Elleanor. He was very restless before the ceremony, but afterwards he was so happy.
"He just lay on the bed, looking like the 'wedding' was what he had been waiting for. He was completely at peace. He said: 'Mum, I can go now.'"
Reece died the following day.
Stepfather Mick Thompson, 28, said: "He made a big impact on a lot of people. He was a ladies' man with a big personality - everyone knew when he was in the room."
Elleanor's mother Hannah said: "Elleanor is missing him a lot now. They were both really pleased with the ceremony. It was very special - he just kept smiling at her."
Dying boy, 8, 'marries' school sweetheart in last wish before telling mother: 'I can go now' | Mail Online