Ashley was only 34 when she suddenly passed away on Christmas Eve.

For Ashley Denness, 2023 was the best year of her life.

After having met Lindsay Emmerson in August 2022, she knew he was "the man of her dreams," according to her mum, Debbie Ngeru. Ashley couldn’t wait to marry him one day. A lover of all things glamourous, she'd envisaged a day fit for a princess.

The couple had recently moved in together, and were carving out their perfect life. Ashley had recently started a new job too, with the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service, helping New South Wales’ most vulnerable babies.

She was looking forward to the year ahead.

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On Christmas Eve, Ashley and Lindsay flew to the Whitsundays, where she would meet her partner’s father, and take part in a family 'crabbing' session. As the group trudged through the mangroves, looking for their next catch, 34-year-old Ashley collapsed.

Someone called an ambulance, which arrived quickly to transport Ashley to Proserpine Hospital. En route, Ashley suffered a cardiac arrest. Paramedics swung into action, successfully resuscitating her. But before they arrived at the hospital, Ashley arrested again. While medical staff did everything they could, the young, vivacious woman — on the cusp of the next, exciting stage of her life — passed away.


"Ashley was one of a kind and the sparkle of our lives," shares Ashley’s mum, Debbie, who is now grappling with the unexplained loss of her much-loved daughter.

"Ashley was young and healthy, she looked after herself. We couldn’t believe it. We still feel this is a nightmare and it will be over soon," Debbie tells Mamamia.

Ashley's family must now wait for a Coroner’s report, that will hopefully reveal how and why Ashley passed away.

"It is now a waiting game for the Coroner’s report which we are informed could take months," Debbie says.

A beautiful life.

As a child, Ashley was a daydreamer, her mum says. "She was a happy child and loved her pet rabbits and cats," she says.

Like most teenagers, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life and took each day as it came. She wasn’t good at sports, but "she gave it a go", shares her mum. Academically, she excelled and loved debating.

"When she finished year 12, she was not sure where her future path lay. She often talked about joining the Police Force or becoming a Paramedic. She then decided she would be a nurse and completed her degree at University of Western Sydney."

After finishing her 12-month Post Grad appointment at Broken Hill Base Hospital, Ashley applied for a position in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and never looked back.

"She loved her job, and we knew Ashley had all the attributes to work with sick babies and to nurture their parents through times that were very challenging."


Ashley spent 12 years at the NCIU before successfully gaining a position with the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS). It takes someone pretty special to work closely with sick and vulnerable babies, and their heart-broken families — Ashley was that special, says Debbie.

"Ashley was a very hardworking and dedicated registered nurse, always putting in the extra hours and truly loved helping her patients and families. After reading all the social media articles about Ashley and her work I can say our family is proud of what Ashley achieved and have no doubt that she made a difference in countless lives," Debbie says.

"She was warm, caring, loving and had zest for life. She would brighten the darkest of rooms and bring a smile to anyone feeling down."

Ashley and Samantha were best friends. Image: Supplied. 


A family girl at heart.

More than anything though, Ashley loved her family. 

“Ashley was very family oriented and loved our family gatherings. You had no choice but to be happy whenever Ashley was around. She had a passion for music and an absolute love of animals as well as our pets, including her cat, Bo."

She was especially close with her mum and dad.

"We would message every week and meet often to catch up. Ashley would pamper me, take me out for coffee and would then take her father to the golf driving range to hit balls together. She would call up and want to go to Bingo with me and her best friend Samantha. We loved her very much and will miss our catch-ups and fun times," Debbie says.

Ashley met Samantha Bozinovska in 2015 at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

"We Both worked as Registered Nurses, Ash was my senior as I was junior and helped me progress through the NICU," shares Samantha, who says the pair instantly connected.

"Ash always liked to take on the new nurses and help their learning and development, while looking after some of the most vulnerable and sick babies," Samantha tells Mamamia.

"She cared for her colleagues and her patients and their families. Ash was an incredible nurse — she supported her colleagues by advocating for her tiny patients, their families and the unit. She attended many rallies for the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association in support of her colleagues, safe staffing and fair pay for all nurses."


Best friends since the day they met, Samantha says she's now left with a "huge hole" in her heart.

"I miss Ash every day, I still can’t believe she is gone. She supported me in every single way possible, she pushed me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She was my biggest cheerleader. I love her and will continue to talk about her every day and to everyone I know."

For her parents, Debbie says they've been left 'haunted' by the 'why'.

"Until we receive the coroner’s report we will be at a loss. I am hoping that we may be able to prevent the same thing happening to another young healthy person so those parents do not have to suffer like we are."

Samantha has set up a GoFundMe page to help Ashley's devastated parents transfer of Ashley back to Sydney, funeral costs, memorial service arrangements, and any other additional support they may require during this difficult period.

"Ashley’s father and I are completely humbled by the social media comments from friends who worked with Ashley and also from parents whose children Ashley cared for," says Debbie. 

"We have always known our daughter was caring and loving but we did not know the magnitude of what Ashley accomplished. It makes us feel so proud to know our daughter touched so many lives and to also make such a big difference."

If you would like to donate to Ashley Denness' GoFundMe, click here.

Featured Image: Supplied.