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His last wish was to hold a koala: How this was made possible for Hunter local

[Sept. 28, 2020: Samantha Cooke]

Friday was bittersweet for Ann-Maria Martin and her family when they helped their terminally ill father complete his final wish; to hold a koala.

With the help of Opal Aged Care and the Hunter Valley Zoo, Ken Martin, 83, received a one-on-one with Bree the koala, ticking the final box off his list.

"His dying wish was to cuddle a koala and the beautiful people at Opal and Hunter Valley Zoo made that happen," Ann-Maria said.

"They brought the koala out to the car because dad was too sick... it was a beautiful experience."

Arriving in Australia from Yorkshire, England in 1954 as part of the Big Brother Movement, which brought young men from England to work on farms in Australia, Ken built his life in Cardiff, with his family close by.

For more than four years, he has been fighting cancer, however, Ann-Maria explained he "probably won't make it to the end of the week."

"It started off as bowel cancer, it got away and it metastasized, so he's got it in every part of his body except his brain," she said.

"He's been strong and fighting it. He's a really tough man."

In addition to the cuddles, Ken will live on with the zoo promising to name Bree the koala's joey after him, since mating her several weeks ago.

"They will name the baby after Dad; if it's a boy, they'll call it Ken, if it's a girl, they'll call her Kenny."

"Afterwards he said, 'I can die now, I've done everything I wanted to do'.

"My Dad is the most amazing man and we are just so happy they were able to do this for him. We can't thank them enough."

This Brighter Side of News post courtesy of The Singleton Argus.


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