Cancer patient reunited with beloved horse by hospice

  • A terminally ill cancer patient was reunited with his horse after staff at a hospice found out how much he missed his equine companion.

    Ron Smith, 66, was visited by 15-year-old gelding Jay in the gardens of St Giles Hospice in Whittington, Staffordshire on 2 October.

    “Ron really missed Jay when he was first admitted to hospital and when he was transferred to the hospice, one of the first things staff offered to do was arrange for Jay to visit,” said Ron’s sister, Sandra Bull.

    St Giles Hospice

    “I didn’t think it would be possible for Ron to see Jay again, but thanks to staff at the hospice and at Lullington Hill Stables, where Jay is stabled, he was able to come and visit.

    “It was a really lovely moment for Ron and Jay and the connection between them was so obvious – it was a really emotional moment for everyone involved.”

    The horse has since returned to the hospice to see his owner again.

    Former mechanic Ron “fell in love” with horses and riding on a trip to Texas 20 years ago.

    “He started riding and never looked back,” said Sandra, adding that Ron has had Jay for four years and would ride him five or six times a week.

    “They have a really close bond – Jay nibbles Ron’s hair and hands, particularly when carrots are involved.”

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    St Giles Hospice

    St Giles’ director of nursing Katie Taroni said the team was “delighted” to help Ron achieve his wish to see Jay.

    “At St Giles we talk about doing what matters for our patients and it’s clear that for many people what really matters is their family including their animals,” she said.

    “We welcome dogs into the hospice on a regular basis but I think this might be the first time we have had a horse.

    “It was a lovely thing to witness and the team were all proud to be part of it.”

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