A MAN who didn’t think he would be alive to attend his best friend’s wedding has beaten the odds to be an usher on the big day.

Inspired by their friend Jeremy Ray’s fight against cancer, newlyweds Karen and James Wiley, from Billericay, also asked their guests to make donations to Cancer Research UK and Macmillan instead of buying them wedding gifts.

So far more than £1,200 has been donated.

The couple tied the knot on Friday, April 12 at St Mary Magdalen Church, in Great Burstead, and despite the torrential April showers Jeremy, 39, of Stock Road, Billericay, said it was one of the best weddings he has been to.

He said: “The whole atmosphere of the day was lovely.

“I’ve been an usher before so I knew what to do. I think James was quite stressed out on the day though so I was trying to keep him calm as best as I could.”

Jeremy was diagnosed with a spinal tumour in September 2010 and was hopeful it could be treated.

However, in December 2011 following courses of both radiotherapy and chemotherapy, doctors broke the devastating news that the disease was incurable and he only had 12 to 15 months to live.

He thought seeing his friends say “I do” wouldn’t happen, but thanks to ongoing drug treatments which has stabilised the tumour, Jeremy is still fighting.

He told how he was so excited about being James’s usher after first meeting him during their school days in 1985 at Billericay School.

He said: “We have always been really close, even though our lives have taken different paths.

“James has always been there for me so it was lovely to be a part of his big day.

“He has done everything he can to help me and is constantly phoning to ask how I am. He’s very, very generous and supportive, just a really nice guy and Karen is equally lovely as well.”

Jeremy, who is married to Lindsay, 33, has been taking a drug called Avastin which is currently holding the tumour at bay.

He still needs chemotherapy every three weeks and remains on strong pain relief, but says in the last six months his ability to walk for longer periods of time has improved and he feels better than he has done.

The former tax consultant said he was “absolutely blown away” when he found out his friends were asking for donations instead of gifts.

He added: “They don’t want anything at all, I’ve never known anything like it. They moved into a new house last year so there must be things they need, it’s quite humbling to be honest.”

To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/James-Karen or www.giveincelebration.cancerresearchuk.org/0001463