A "perfect wedding" for Mount Isa palliative care patient

Bride and groom, Richard and Julie Beaumont.
Bride and groom, Richard and Julie Beaumont.

For Julie Beaumont, her wedding "couldn't have been more perfect".

For Julie, a palliative care patient at Mount Isa Hospital, the wedding earlier this month couldn't have taken place without the support of several community services, including the Queensland Ambulance Service, and staff at the North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS).

There were a lot of barriers to this extraordinary wedding taking place.

Julie is bed-bound in the Palliative Care Ward at Mount Isa Hospital, and her friend, Nurse Unit Manager at the Cancer Care Unit, Nicole Williams, knew they would have to negotiate with Queensland Ambulance Service, to transport Julie to the venue.

She began the planning with Clinical Nurse Consultant for Palliative Care, Samantha Beedham.

"We did a normal booking through QAS for the ambulance, and two officers volunteered their time. We didn't know whether they could turn up at the time we wanted them, as you can't really book an ambulance, but they did," Ms Williams said.

Julie relived the experience:

"The ambos went over and above what we asked of them. The two officers, Sarah Stone and Bianca Anderson turned up on their day off, in their dress uniforms with a bunch of flowers for me, and they just looked fabulous," Julie said.

QAS officers Sarah Stone and Bianca Anderson in their dress uniforms

QAS officers Sarah Stone and Bianca Anderson in their dress uniforms

"They had 'pimped up the ambulance', decorating the inside of the ambulance with fairy lights. It was so special.

"I couldn't walk, but it's part of who I am at the moment, and the ambos certainly made it a fabulous day."

Once at the wedding venue, the home of a cousin of Julie's, Aunty Margaret MacKenzie dressed the bride in a specially adapted dress, Reegyn McElligott, from Skin Coaches did the make up and nails, and Sam Richmond did Julie's hair.

The bride couldn't sit up in a wheelchair, so special permission had been granted to borrow a reclining chair. It couldn't fit through the front door, so it needed to be dismantled. A lot of barriers, but the willing volunteers, friends and family all pitched in to help.

Julie had been waiting a while for the proposal from the groom, Richard Beaumont and had always thought they'd get married in Townsville. The couple met three years ago, and the following year Julie learned she had renal cancer.

Last Christmas, with the couple's children gathered, Richard popped the question with a ring disguised in a tool wrapper in a plastic container. Julie wasn't impressed until she found the beautiful diamond ring and realised they would have to plan a wedding.

Bride Julie Beaumont in the borrowed reclining chair.

Bride Julie Beaumont in the borrowed reclining chair.

The service was conducted by wedding celebrant Judy Pauza, and the 70 guests had a great night, according to the relatives assembled around Julie's bed.

One cousin turned up from Western Australia, and Julie was so surprised she said, "But you weren't invited!" She hadn't invited him because she thought it was too far for him to travel.

"It was really a great family reunion," she said.

The trip back to the hospital was also special for Julie. The ambulance officers wheeled her bed down the driveway through a guard of honour formed by the guests, holding sparklers, and into the fairy lights of the ambulance.

Back at the Palliative Care Unit, friends and family had decorated Julie's room, fit for a bride.

"It was the best going away," Julie said. "And to think I was going to be married in Townsville!"

Julie, Richard and the family expressed their thanks to everyone who had worked together to make the event so memorable, including the nurses from Cancer Care, Palliative Care, the Medical Ward, and Dr Oliver, Palliative Care consultant, and of course, those smartly dressed ambulance officers, Sarah Stone and Bianca Anderson.