A woman faked a terminal cancer diagnosis to dupe friends and well-wishers into paying thousands for her dream wedding.

The elaborate hoax saw healthy Toni Standen, 29, shave her head, give several emotional newspaper interviews - and even faked her own death online.

Telling friends that the cancer had spread throughout her body, she said she wanted her dad, Derek, who actually was dying of cancer, to be able to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day before either of them died.

This prompted them to launch a GoFundMe page to raise the funds to give Standen and her partner James “a wedding they deserve”.

But now Standen faces a jail term after lying about having cancer to persuade people to contribute to the cost of her £8,500 wedding, reports the  Mirror.

Her father died before the big day arrived but a video he recorded was played during the wedding, which left the family and guests in tears. 

However moments afterwards, Standen was laughing and joking.

One guest said: “After hearing her father’s laboured words she got up and gave a faultless speech, even cracking a few jokes.

“Her mother and brother were in bits. We’d all just listened to a father of the bride message from beyond the grave.

“Toni even received a video message from Everton FC, delivered by one of the top players. She laughed throughout.”

After the wedding in Widnes, Cheshire, Standen and James, 52, went to a nearby hotel. Witnesses claim she rifled through wedding cards, counting the cash inside, before jetting off on honeymoon to Turkey.

Toni Standen posted updates on her alleged 'cancer battle' online

Unemployed Standen has now been told she faces jail after admitting fraud, with those closest to her calling it the "ultimate betrayal".

Friend Cheryl Aston, who she met in college, donated £525 to the crowdfunder. She said: “She could have won an Oscar, her acting was that good. She fooled us all. We were all completely sucked in.

“She told me she was dying and I fell for it.”

Mum-of-two Cheryl, who attended the wedding, added: “I remember her telling me that her cancer had come back and that it was terminal. She told me it had spread to her bones and her organs. I was devastated – everyone was.

“She said she wanted her dad to walk her down the aisle before either of them died. Everyone pulled together. People didn’t have much but they wanted to give what they could. I wanted to help so badly but I couldn’t afford a lot. I asked her about doing a fundraiser. She said, ‘Yeah, yeah, every little helps’.”

Another friend said: “We were all in awe of this woman who, instead of fading away as the ‘cancer’ took hold, got stronger every day. But she knew full well nobody would question the honesty or integrity of a cancer victim.”

Appearing at Chester Magistrates Court last week, she pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation between February 2019 and April 2020.

But the deception started in July 2017 – under her maiden name of Atherton – where she was interviewed in her local paper saying she had cancer.

And in March last year she gave a second interview, revealing the “devastating” news her illness was terminal. She also said she wanted to get hitched before Derek succumbed to cancer.

Standen spoke to the  ECHO when she recounted her battle with cancer in vivid detail.

She said: "It has gone to my brain, my bones - it's everywhere at the minute - it's a very rare cancer."

The wedding – at St Bede’s Catholic Church in Widnes – was followed by a reception for 150 guests. But even after the big day, the lies still kept coming.

In January this year, Standen said she had two months to live and her organs had begun to fail. In February, her Facebook page said: “RIP TONI. Our lovely Toni passed away last night, surrounded by friends and family... strong until the end.”

Standen blamed the post on hackers.

But friends have other theories. One said: “She did it for attention – to see what people would say about her if she died.”

In March, again appearing to defy her “illness”, Standen went on holiday with James – visiting Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Italy.

Then in April, she claimed to have caught Covid... which was one lie too far.

Two friends decided to question her. One said: “We rang her for a three-way conversation and recorded it. We asked her straight: ‘Have you really got cancer?’

“She started crying and admitted it was all lies. We ended the call and phoned the police straight away.”

Standen was supported by husband James at the court hearing.

District judge Nicholas Sanders said she committed a “horrible breach of trust”.

A judge can order Standen to repay the donations.

Care worker Cheryl said: “If we get anything back, I’m going to donate it to a cancer charity. There needs to be some light at the end of this dark tale.”