A horse in Devon paid a very special visit to a hospice recently, after staff discovered one of their residents had a lifelong passion for equines.
Victor, who lives at North Devon Equine Rescue Centre, called to visit Patrick Saunders, a patient at the North Devon Hospice after Patrick told nurses how he had spent much of his life around equines.
Even though Patrick wasn't well enough to get out of bed to meet Victor, staff wheeled his bed into the courtyard so that he was able to greet his four-legged guest. The pair quickly made friends, with Patrick sealing their bond with a few apples, carrots and polo mints.
Patrick taught his wife, Wendy, to ride at his family’s stables and they celebrated their 66th anniversary this year. Patrick had also taught all their children to ride.
Sadly, Patrick died at the hospice just three days after Victor's visit, but his daughter Jayne said his final days had been brightened no end.
She said: “When they told me that a horse was coming to visit Dad, I thought that maybe he would be able to see the animal from his balcony. I had no idea he would be able to get so close.
“He’d actually had a couple of bad days and wasn’t himself at all, but he was absolutely full of beans and you could see the joy on his face from being able to interact with such a gorgeous animal. Horses have played a big part in our family’s life, so this was a very special moment.
"People can be fearful of the word ‘hospice’, unless you know better, like we do now. I now see North Devon Hospice as a really positive place where we were all so well looked after. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
For more information about the care and support provided by the hospice, please visit www.northdevonhospice.org.uk