BEHIND THE PHOTO: Bay Ambos to join Prince Harry and Meghan
IT WAS a spontaneous act of compassion that went around the world, a picture of humanity and dignity and how sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference.
Newscorp can reveal for the first time the story of the woman on the stretcher, Joyce, who was taken for one last glimpse of the ocean she loved on her final trip to hospital last November.
Two days later, Joyce would be gone.
In the moment that captured hearts around the world, veteran Hervey Bay paramedic Graeme Cooper stood beside Joyce as ambulance partner Danielle Kellam took the spontaneous snap that has taken on a life of its own.
Joyce's grieving husband, who did not want their surname publicised, released a photo of Joyce to Newscorp to mark Graeme and Danielle being recognised during Prince Harry and Meghan's royal visit.
The caring paramedics will tomorrow join the reception hosted by Harry and Meghan after a special request from Kensington Palace, handpicked for their compassion, to include them in their visit.
Joyce's heartwarming final goodbye to the ocean and bay that she loved, the short stop within sight of Urangan pier, with the water lapping against the shore and memories of past times with her loving husband, began a week before the now-famous photo was taken.
Joyce had been in hospital, a palliative care patient, when paramedic Graeme and patient transfer officer Danielle were tasked with taking her home, where she was going to die surrounded by family and with her husband.
On that trip, Joyce had told them how she and her husband had fallen in love with Hervey Bay, walking along the beach and the bay, and decided to retire there.
She was settled at home, but within a week, needed to be taken back to hospital.
It was Graeme and Danielle who were again tasked with moving her.
"We got dispatched to go and pick her up and take her back to hospital," Graeme said. "It was getting tough at home. Danielle spoke to her husband.
"I went straight to Joyce and whispered in her ear 'would you like to go back via the beach?' on the way back.
"She just lit up. She said 'can we?' and I said 'absolutely'. I knew this was going to be something special."
They found the perfect spot, backing the ambulance in off the Esplanade and wheeled Joyce out of the back, across the foot and bike path and stopped against the foreshore rock wall.
From there Joyce could hear and see the water, but the rocks prevented them getting close enough to touch it. So Graeme took a sick bag down to the waves, filling it and bringing it back so Joyce could dip her fingers in the saltwater she loved.
"Her eyes lit up, her heart rate increased," Danielle said.
As Graeme quietly stood beside her, Danielle took the candid phone photo.
After 15 minutes looking at the sea, Joyce was eased gently back in to the ambulance and taken to hospital.
Two days later, on November 24, she would die, leaving her husband, who the ambulance crew remain in close contact with, to try and continue on without her. Danielle's photo of Graeme and Joyce would go first on the Queensland Ambulance Service Facebook page, with the reminder that it isn't drugs or training that made an ambulance officer, it is humanity.
It was then picked up and shared, making it to the pages of celebrities and the media, flashing around the world attached to messages of hope, compassion and healing.
It has been almost a year since that day with Joyce.