Wish Granted Just In Time For Proud Nan


A new partnership between Ambulance Wish Queensland and Mater Private Hospital Townsville has meant a grandmother was able to play a special part in her first granddaughter’s wedding on Friday 26 April – just four days before she passed away.

Retired administration officer Denise Lawson, 77, had been in Mater Private Hospital Townsville’s Intensive Care Unit with late-stage pancreatic cancer for eight weeks, but wasn’t letting that stop her from dressing up for granddaughter Tahlia Williams’ big day.

Tahlia, 25, said she had always shared a special bond with her nan.

“My nan has played a huge role in my life – she has supported me though school, dance, horse riding, all the way through to buying my first house,” Ms Williams said.

“Nan was so excited when I told her I was engaged that she bought her wedding outfit even before I had my dress!”

Tahlia is the eldest of Denise’s five grandchildren, which her mother Deanne Lawrence said made this wedding more of a milestone.

“Tahlia is the first grandchild in our family and also the first to marry, so for mum to still be involved in her day was really important to both of them,” Ms Lawrence said.

“I had been following Ambulance Wish Queensland for some time and initially thought they only fulfilled wishes in South East Queensland. I got in contact with them out of desperation to see if they could fulfil mum’s last wish, and they did!”

While Denise was unable to attend Tahlia’s wedding in person to ensure she could be closely monitored by hospital staff, Ambulance Wish Queensland was able to organise a special celebration for Denise and Tahlia on site at Mater Private Hospital Townsville.

“Mum was the first to go out and buy her outfit and shoes when Tahlia got engaged, so it was very special for her to be able to dress up with the help of the ICU staff and be part of her day,” Ms Lawrence said.

“She shared a special brooch with Tahlia to wear on the day which I wore at my wedding, she wore at her wedding and her mother before her wore at her wedding as well.”

Palliative Care Queensland CEO Louise O’Neill said the granting of the wish marked a milestone in extending the reach of Ambulance Wish to more North Queenslanders.

“Denise was the very first Mater Private Hospital Townsville patient with a life-limiting condition to have her wish granted, but she definitely won’t be the last,” Ms O’Neill said.

“Our team were all incredibly touched by Denise and Tahlia’s story, and we are so grateful that we were able to play a part in assisting them in celebrating such a momentous occasion together.

“On behalf of everyone at Palliative Care Queensland and Ambulance Wish Queensland, I want to pay tribute to Denise and send all of our love and support to Tahlia, Deanne and their families.”

Mater Private Hospital Townsville Acting General Manager Anna Olson said the partnership with Ambulance Wish Queensland demonstrated Mater’s commitment to providing compassionate care.

“I want to commend Mater’s Intensive Care Unit team for always going above and beyond to support every one of their patients and their families, with a number of their patients affected by life-limiting illnesses,” Ms Olson said.

“It was wonderful to welcome Tahlia and her family on site for a very special celebration with Denise thanks to Ambulance Wish Queensland, and for them to make such special final memories together.

“We are all thinking of Tahlia, Deanne and families at this time, and I know our ICU team in particular will never forget the beautiful light Denise brought to their ward over the past two months.”

Tahlia said the day was perfect.

“Nan was very much lost for words on the day, saying how beautiful everyone looked all dressed up: she kept complimenting the boys in the suits and the girls in their beautiful dresses with hair and make-up done,” Ms Williams said.

“She was so grateful to have this moment together as a family.”

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