Former national badminton player Khaw Beng Eam married his partner of 25 years just nine days before passing away due to COVID-19 in a London hospital
Khaw, 88, fondly known as Benny, tied the knot with his partner Julia Cox, 66, in the Acute Assessment Unit of Kingston Hospital in South West London where he was admitted for the coronavirus.
The couple was married by Reverend Susan van Beveren with his stepdaughters, Eleanor Cox, 34, and Emma Perham, 38, as witnesses to the bittersweet ceremony.
Khaw, who hails from Penang, dedicated most of his life to badminton
According to New Straits Times, he once represented Malaysia in the Thomas Cup and continued coaching the sport even after moving to England to study at the University of London in 1962.
He met Cox when she took her daughters to him for badminton lessons at the Wimbledon Club 25 years ago.
The otherwise fit and healthy 85-year-old was rushed to Kingston Hospital on 2 January, where he tested positive for COVID-19 and succumbed to the disease two weeks later on 17 January.
Cox, who works at a hospital in Guilford, was not infected as she had already been vaccinated.
Khaw and Cox had always talked about getting married, but as their daughter Eleanor explained, they just never got around to it
"Benny has been in our lives for many years and I already consider him to be my dad," she told British national paper Daily Mirror. Eleanor also shared that she was coached by Khaw since she was nine and went on to become a national player for England.
"When he went into hospital, we thought he would be in for only a couple of days. Then the thought dawned on us whether Benny would actually come home. Eventually, my mother said she would like to get married. So mum and Benny discussed it."
Within 24 hours of getting approval to run the wedding ceremony, the healthcare workers of Kingston Hospital helped to decorate the discharge room of the Acute Assessment Unit with white lights and white balloons, and also bought the couple a wedding cake.
Khaw and Cox were married at 11.30pm on 8 January.
This was the second marriage for both of them; the couple has three daughters and four grandchildren between them.