BAGS packed and ready to begin their new lives, Sara Cole and Jeremy Stratton thought they would just be passing through Portsmouth.
But when Jeremy suffered seizures in Portsmouth International Port, Sara was at the mercy of staff around her to help them and their black labrador Nyx.
Sara, 47, wants to say thank you to them and all the NHS staff who helped during that evening earlier this month.
The television researcher from New Zealand said: ‘It had been four years in the planning.
‘We had been living in New Zealand but decided we wanted to start a new life in France.
‘After selling Jeremy’s flat in Bath we made our way to Portsmouth to get on the ferry and were just waiting.
‘But then Jeremy felt very strange, and stopped knowing who he was or where we were.
‘I was terrified. He’s a strong, healthy man. I was so afraid.’
An ambulance was called and staff at the port said they would take care of Nyx.
Jeremy was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital where tests revealed he has a brain tumour.
The couple have now halted their plans to go to France as they wait to find out more about the tumour.
Jeremy, 54, a freelance writer, spent a week in QA, and proposed to Sara while in hospital.
Sara said: ‘The level of real care, and I will say love, for Jeremy and me, from those nurses was outstanding.
‘I felt so vulnerable having no home or family in Portsmouth. You should all feel proud.
‘Even if the NHS isn’t perfect it’s still humane, the workers are and they should be upheld with such esteem.
‘And I want to say thank you to Martin and Andy from the port who have been looking after Nyx.’
The couple are now awaiting to hear results from the hospital and hoping to get married next month.
Jeremy said: ‘The nurses were absolutely fabulous and I cannot say thank you enough.
‘I don’t remember much at the port but I know the staff have helped Nyx and Sara.’
The couple presented flowers to the nurses and beer to the ferry staff.
Critical care nurse Violet Manyeruke said: ‘We really appreciate the thank you and accept in on behalf of the whole NHS.’
Kalvin Baugh, deputy ferry port manager, said: ‘We wish Jeremy a speedy recovery and glad he got good service.’