A PREGNANT woman who was to be chief bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding gave birth to a baby girl as the vows were being exchanged.

Nicola Pearson was due to accompany her younger sister, Lesley Errington, down the aisle at St James Church, in Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, on Saturday, despite being due to give birth two days before the wedding day.

However, during the morning of the wedding, when Miss Pearson was at the hairdressers, her contractions began.

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The 33-year-old, of West Auckland, County Durham, was determined to make it to the church, but on the way to the car she realised she would have to head to hospital instead.

Because of all the excitement, Mrs Errington was 25 minutes late to the church, where she was greeted by anxious husband-to-be Warren, 31, who thought he had been stood up.

But the delay meant the vows were being made as Emily Kate Wilkinson entered the world at 2.14pm, at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham City, weighing 7lb 14oz.

“It is the best wedding present we could have wished for,” said Mrs Errington, of Coundon. “We never expected this would happen. I mean, what are the chances?

“We just had to carry on without her. The vicar read out a prayer for Nicola and the baby.

“When we went for the rehearsal earlier in the week the vicar joked about having a wedding and a christening at the same time.”

The wedding had been booked for three years and it was only after a year-and-a-half of trying and on the day the siblings went shopping for bridesmaid dresses that Miss Pearson announced she was pregnant.

Miss Pearson said: “I was crying when I went into labour because I didn’t want to ruin Lesley’s day, but as we tried to leave for the church I knew I was not going to make it.

“If I’d gone to the church I would have given birth in the aisle.”

Her partner, Robert Wilkinson, 33, was at her side during the birth, but briefly made it to the reception at the Park Head Hotel, in New Coundon, to collect her son, Callum Teasdale, so he could meet his new sister.

Mr and Mrs Errington plan to honeymoon in Ibiza and Mexico with their two children, Brent, 11, and Leah, five.

It was a triple celebration for the family at the weekend because the sisters’ parents, Toni and Stephen Pearson, celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary on Sunday.