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Royal Navy couple married at fourth attempt

8 June 2021
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After three postponements over the past two years, a Royal Navy couple who met during their basic training tied the knot at HM Naval Base Portsmouth on Saturday with a handful of family and friends at the military chapel.

While many people have only suffered delays to their marriage plans since March last year, Lance Corporal Jake Kennedy had to deploy with the Commando Logistic Regiment for winter training in Norway. This meant his planned March 2019 wedding to Petty Officer (Nurse) Jo Parke was pushed back.

Little did they know this would force it into the path of a pandemic which would strike when Jake, 29, was training in Norway again last year.

An August 2020 plan to wed in Italy, to combine their marriage and mutual love of travel, and an attempt in January for special permission to use the naval base chapel during lockdown, also failed.

The tumult to their plans was compounded by a motorbike accident suffered by Jo’s father, and her grandfather also being too ill to travel to Portsmouth. Instead, the bride, who has moved cabin twice since buying her wedding dress, was given away by Naval Base Commander, Commodore JJ Bailey.

We didn’t want to wait any longer and both of our families were keen for us to have it formalised. Jake and I are both so humbled that the Navy have really stepped up for the both of us, in the sense that we are far away from home, family members can’t attend, but they have tried to make it really special and actually happen.

Petty Officer (Nurse) Jo Parke

Armed with a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury to be married at St Ann’s, the Royal Marine and Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nurse finally said, “I do”. Navy Chaplain Rev Phillip Amey led the ceremony.

Signaller Jake, who is based at RM Chivenor in Devon, said that there was never any intention of a grand lavish occasion. “We’ve always been a fan of a small intimate things,” he said. “We both take things in our stride; we’re very grateful for the chance to have finally been married and are glad to have it made formal.

“The Naval Base Commander also very kindly opened his garden to us following the service, and we are both so grateful for him for agreeing to give Jo away.”

Jake’s mum saw her only child married to someone he met in a chance encounter at HMS Raleigh seven years ago. Royal Marine recruits were spending a week of their basic training there, and hearing each other’s familiar accent in the galley they carried on chatting.

Waiting until later this year to marry would have been difficult; Jo will deploy to HMS Queen Elizabeth for the latter part of the Carrier Strike Group deployment to Asia-Pacific, due to return to Portsmouth in December. Indeed, many of the intended guests are on this deployment and missed the wedding. Homecoming from CSG21 will mark the end of two busy years for Jo which has seen her assisting the NHS in critical care at the city’s Queen Alexandra Hospital and the vaccine rollout across southern England.

A honeymoon will have to wait; a trip to New Zealand the aim. It was back to work for both on Monday.

Commodore Bailey said: “I too was humbled at being asked to give away the bride and seeing how the Royal Navy has ensured that two of its own are being made to feel so special on their wedding day. Jake and Jo are a credit to their families and the Armed Forces and I wish them well for their lives together.”

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