Ex-footballer getting married today following near-death experience after scoring goal

Laura and Darren Walker from Calvert Green are getting married after Darren's heart problems. Darren and Laura with daughters, from the left, Grace, Hannah, Ellie-Rose and Erin

Laura and Darren Walker from Calvert Green are getting married after Darren's heart problems. Darren and Laura with daughters, from the left, Grace, Hannah, Ellie-Rose and Erin

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A man who almost died on a football pitch will walk down the aisle with the love of his life today (Friday).

Wedding bells will ring out at St Michael’s Church in Steeple Claydon this afternoon for Darren and Laura Walker after a worrying time for the family.

Laura and Darren Walker from Calvert Green are getting married after Darren's heart problems. Darren and Laura with daughters from the left, Grace, Hannah, Erin and Ellie-Rose

Laura and Darren Walker from Calvert Green are getting married after Darren's heart problems. Darren and Laura with daughters from the left, Grace, Hannah, Erin and Ellie-Rose

But the couple, who live in Calvert Green, want to wed to say thank you to their friends and family for their support.

Twins Erin and Grace, 11, Hannah, 13, and Ellie-Rose, 15, have nagged mum and dad to get hitched for some time.

But after 20 years as a couple, the day has finally arrived and Darren, 43, cannot wait to see the look on the girls’ faces.

He said: “We are doing it for them. They’ve had a rubbish time with my health and despite that, they’ve been badgering us to get married.

“They want us all to have the same name.”

Since suffering a heart attack after scoring a goal for Steeple Claydon FC in 2001, Darren has needed three bypass operations in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

He said: “I crawled off the pitch and saw the players come off for half-time – I don’t remember much else. I’ve had three operations but I might as well have had six. They always go wrong.”

In 2013, Darren suffered a second heart attack as he was being wheeled out of the operating theatre.

But friends and family rallied around them and despite regular check-ups and daily medication, Darren is now fighting fit.

He has been diagnosed with both chronic heart disease and peripheral arterial disease but he enjoys an active family life and gets out and about with the insurance company he works for.

His wife-to-be Laura, 39, who works in the office at Buckingham Primary School, is excited to walk down the aisle and enjoy the happy moment as a family.

She said: “It’s given us something positive to think about and something to look forward to.

“We all worry about Darren but we’re very lucky. We have a lot of good people in our lives and this day is our way of thanking them.”

There is a second reason to celebrate as Ellie-Rose, who goes to The Buckingham School, has completed her Young Leader of the Year award.

The award is run by Action4Youth and Buckingham & Winslow Young Carers (YC2).

Ellie-Rose, along with her friend Chloe McConnell, completed the award this year.

It involved two outward bound weekends, first aid training, youth work courses and a written piece of coursework.They were presented with certificates at Aylesbury Vale District Council HQ at The Gateway in Aylesbury.

Darren thanked YC2’s ‘amazing’ founder and organiser, Margot Parfitt, for boosting his daughter’s confidence.

Laura said: “We’ve got a completely different daughter. I can’t begin to tell you the difference it has made for her.”

Mrs Parfitt said she is chuffed to see the Walkers have a ‘happy occasion’ today and described them as a ‘fantastic couple’.