For bridegroom Reece was just eight years old — and getting “hitched” to his sweetheart Elleanor Pursglove was his last dying wish.
Yesterday tearful Lorraine recalled how, as he clung to life for the romantic moment he had longed for, leukaemia victim Reece told her: “I’m not ready to go yet.”
Only after the pair had “wed” in an emotional mock ceremony in his front room did he finally succumb — and died the next day.
[Shipshape ... Reece wearing a pirate costume]
Their “wedding” was the ultimate in a series of wishes that Reece had wanted to fulfil in his final days.
The youngster, who fought the disease for four years, also enjoyed rides in a Ferrari and a Porsche, spent a day at a fire station and hosted a pirate-themed party for his family and friends.
Lorraine paid tribute to his courage, saying: “We will always miss him, but we have a real sense he is at peace now.
“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. It may sound a strange thing to do, but their relationship was very strong.”
Reece first fell ill one day in July 2004. He crawled up to Lorraine on his hands and knees and said: “Mum, my legs are really hurting.”
She took him to hospital where doctors at first thought he had a virus but they quickly diagnosed leukaemia.
Although Reece was given gruelling courses of chemo and radiotherapy, in May this year his family were warned that he had only a few weeks to live.
Lorraine and Reece’s stepdad Mick Thompson, both 28, cared for him at home with the help of a nurse until his death on July 5.
To make Reece’s wedding dream come true, the family had at first planned to stage a full ceremony with a vicar to guide the youngsters through their vows, with Elleanor — who is also eight — arriving by limo.
But when Reece’s condition worsened they realised there was little time left and arranged for a simpler ceremony at home.
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.”
On the big day, Reece waited impatiently in his favourite Next shirt — complete with a single red rose — as Elleanor and her family headed from their nearby home.
The emotion of the occasion finally overcame Lorraine when she looked through the window and saw her son’s “bride” in her tiny wedding dress.
She 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 pretend marriage certificate.
But in the end Reece chose not to kiss the bride — despite having earned 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, given the chance.
“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 later 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, who continued to attend Derby’s Brackensdale Junior School even after being weakened by the disease, died the next day.
Lorraine added: “He was such a battler and so brave. He had a high threshold of pain, and for him to show it meant he was really suffering.
“I’ve lost my son, but he was robbed of a lot more than that. The good thing is that he managed to fulfil all his dreams while he still had time.”
Stepdad Mick added: “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.”
Reece, whose coffin was decorated with a pirate ship, left a seven-year-old brother, Dylan, sister Ellie, three — and his “wife”.
Her mum 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.”
In his final weeks, Reece was so ill that his home had to be fitted with a full hospital bed, which is where he quietly sat while the ceremony took place.
Lorraine said: “I was sitting next to him and holding his hand during the ceremony.
“As soon as it started he was suddenly a lot more relaxed.
“In the days beforehand he had been really agitated and struggling to sleep — that’s how ill he was. But after the wedding he was so peaceful.
“He did everything he could to stick around until he had done what he wanted.”
Weeks earlier, a family friend had arranged for one of Reece’s other dreams to come true — to be taken for a spin in two of his favourite sports cars.
Another of his wishes, to ride in a fire engine, was made possible by the crew at Derby’s Kingsway fire station, near the family home.
Frail Reece was at first expected to spend only a short time with his heroes, but they were so moved by his plight they let him stay all day.
Lorraine said: “He loved that day. They were great with him and took him out in every vehicle they had.
“Everyone is upset he has gone. It hasn’t really hit me yet. But the important thing is that he was at peace at the end.
“For four years he was imprisoned by a hospital bed or his bed at home, and even in the last weeks he just kept going. But he’s not in pain any more.”