NSW Police grants dying woman her final wish
In her final days, Rita Meredith had one last wish - to smell and see a horse for the last time.
And with the help of her friend Lorna, the mounted unit of the NSW Police didn't disappoint with helping to fulfil the request.
Travelling from Redfern to Calvary Mater hospital in Newcastle, Constable Nicole Hevell and Senior Constable Graham Lovett were accompanied by horses Hollywood and Don to ensure the moment was one that couldn't have been forgotten.
"It was a really happy day and Rita appeared to be happy that we were there," Constable Harvell said.
"My colleague Graham, who has been in the police for more than ten years, has never done anything like this before.
"It was incredible and I was honoured to meet her and be there for her. It was an amazing experience for both of us …. I guess we (Rita) could relate to each other."
Having joined the UK police at the age of 18, Mrs Meredith went on to become the first female in the UK to serve in the mounted police unit two years later.
After serving for more than ten years, she left the force and started her own riding school before becoming a swimming instructor.
But after having kids, she came to Australia in 1991 and it was here that she would go on to foster more than 60 kids - most of whom had a disability.
Daughter-in-law Emily Sykes, who is also a nurse at the hospital, said Mrs Meredith was not expected to return home, but was overwhelmed by the surprise visit.
"She was so surprised that they travelled all that way just to see her. She is very humble and doesn't believe she is worth all the fuss," Mrs Sykes said.
"She was just so happy to see them, pat them and of course smell them. She kept smelling her fingers and just smiling."
"We got to pat them (horses) and feed them apples. There were plenty of tears shed and beautiful memories made.
"I cannot thank the NSW police for making this happen. You have made this lovely ladies wish come true and did it with such professionalism, respect and grace."
Originally published as NSW Police grants dying woman her final wish