A respiratory doctor on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 has been left £15,000 out of pocket after his wedding was cancelled.

Tejas Ingle and his fiancée Sai Patel, inset, who live in Stevenage, had been planning the wedding of their dreams in northern Italy in April, with a party back in the UK, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and replaced their dreams with a nightmare.

The UK and region of Italy where Tejas and Sai had been due to marry went into lockdown, so the venue cancelled the booking.

Tejas, who met dental officer Sai at university seven years ago, said: “We were looking forward to getting married after two years of planning, but within weeks of the outbreak everything fell apart.”

A respiratory registrar at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, Tejas was on the frontline throughout the first wave of COVID-19. He said: “With the lungs my area of speciality, COVID became my life and is likely to dominate things for me for the foreseeable future.

“I led the COVID teams and can’t count how many positive cases I have been directly involved with. Most patients were incredibly sick and difficult decisions were needed.”

While coping with this extremely challenging situation, Tejas was also trying to recoup money outlaid for his wedding. He said most companies booked have issued partial refunds, with the exception of one – caterers La Freshco in Uxbridge, who have refused to return a penny of the £6,600 paid.

Tejas said: “They refused point blank to refund anything and had the tenacity to state they have been fair by not asking for the last £3,300 instalment, due just as lockdown hit. Significant money has been lost due to this company not being compassionate enough to refund any money despite our event being cancelled.

“All in all, we have lost over £15,000, which could have been a lot worse had it not been for certain companies being so decent in their responses.”

This paper has tried several times to speak with Vishal Sharma, owner of La Freshco, but he has not been available. In an email he said he was prepared to allow the couple to postpone their booking, but only a cancellation had been requested. “Of course as a company we have incurred costs,” he said.

Tejas and Sai now plan to tie the knot at a small UK civil ceremony in October.