The hospital that granted rider Sheila Marsh’s last wish to see her horse is “truly amazed” at the emotional response to the story from around the world.

The 77-year-old grandmother from Wigan was visited by her favourite horse, Bronwen, which she had looked after for 25 years last week (3 November).

The picture of the bay mare nuzzling Mrs Marsh a few hours before she died was picked up by newspapers, radio and TV stations in the UK, America and Australia.

Staff at Wigan Royal Infirmary acted on a request from the family and allowed the horse to be brought to the hospital.

Horse Patient DaughterAs Bronwen doesn’t travel well on her own, she was accompanied on the hospital visit with a stable companion.

The horses were led through the hospital car park after being unloaded in a disabled parking bay beside the hospital.

The nursing staff wheeled Mrs Marsh down the corridor in her bed to the entrance to say goodbye to her horse.

“Sheila gently called to Bronwen and the horse bent down tenderly and touched her on the cheek as they said their last goodbyes,” said Gail Taylor, a bereavement liason specialist nurse.

The bereavement team at the hospital work with patients and families to try and accommodate last wishes.

Requests for fresh flowers or a certain drink are often made and last year one patient asked to see her dog. But never before has there been a wish to see a horse.

“End of life care with our patients is paramount and fundamental to what we do. We put our patients and family at the centre of everything we do, especially in the last days and hours of life. We listened to and acted on Shelia’s last wish to say goodbye to her horse that she’d had for the past 25 years from a foal,” explained Gail Taylor.

Daughter and HorsesThe hospital is putting the pictures of the final reunion into a commemorative photo album, which it will present to Mrs Marsh’s daughter Tina.

“Capturing keepsake mementos can help with the grief journey which we all experience after the death of a loved one,” said Gail Taylor.

Pauline Taylor, the deputy director of nursing at the hospital who authorised Bronwen’s visit said: “This was obviously extremely important to Mrs Marsh and her family and we feel privileged to have been able to provide this support at this crucial stage of her care.”

Mrs Marsh, who used to work at Haydock Park racecourse, was paid a farewell visit from one of her dogs the weekend before she was visited by Bronwen.

She had six horses, three dogs and three cats and a close friend described her as “devoted to her horses and other pets.”

  • David Morgan-Davies

    The difference between dogs and horses are the longevity.I look after a shetland pony I first met in 1979 I have cared for him for thirty years.he is now very much a household pet.The horse in yout article had been in the care of her owner for twenty five years an incredible length of time

  • Debby Brown

    Great to see how well this team seems to understand the needs of their patients and how they take such a positive approach to palliative care. When we talk about holistic medicine, we know how personal the care package needs to be for each individual, and I’m sure it was a great comfort to Shelia Marsh’s family that her last wishes were respected and both Shelia and her horse Bronwen were able to have some precious time to say goodbye.

  • Helen Ann Connolly

    Well done to the hospital for being sensitive to this request. It reminds me of the funeral of a friend whose horse attended. The horse whinnied as soon as her coffin was taken out of the hearse. So hard to keep the tears back. Such sensitive and knowing creatures.

  • Felicity Berkeley

    Happy tears for you your family and all your 4legged friends – I too hope they will be safe forever