Family brings horse to visit grandmother in hospice

  • A horse was the guest of honour at a Devon Hospice last week (23 September).

    Megan Hayes, 14, rode her new horse, Puzzle, into the grounds of Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay to meet her grandmother Pat West, who is a resident there.

    Pat’s daughter Sally Hayes — Megan’s mother — arranged the visit and drove Puzzle up from her home near Ipplepen.

    “My sister [Helen West] events and as a family, we are just really into horses,” Mrs Hayes told H&H.

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    “We bought Puzzle after mum had been admitted to the hospice, so she didn’t really know him.

    “She’s so poorly now that we thought we can’t take mum to see him, so we brought him to see her.”

    The family has only had the 15.2hh seven-year-old skewbald gelding for about seven weeks and Mrs Hayes added that he was “very good” during the visit.

    “He is just a really nice chap,” she added.

    “I am sure he knew — it is almost like he had a sixth sense.”

    Animals frequently visit the hospice for pet therapy sessions.

    “The hospice is not really a place you really know until you are in the position we are in,” said Mrs Hayes.

    Absolutely nothing is too much trouble — the staff are just amazing.

    “It is a wonderful, wonderful place.”

    Pat, 77, has motor neurone disease and has been a patient on Rowcroft’s inpatient unit for around nine weeks.

    “We have two horses who live at the bottom of our drive, but one is resting with an injury at the moment,” said Pat.

    “We haven’t had Puzzle for very long but he is cool, calm and collected — he hasn’t put a hoof wrong.

    “It was great to have him here, it was a very good day and the staff have been excellent.”

    The visit was covered by BBC Spotlight and was broadcast on Thursday (24 September).

    Occupational therapist Sarah Reynolds said: “Rowcroft believes in trying to make every day the best day possible for patients and their families.

    “So to be able to provide Pat with an opportunity to see the lovely Puzzle and her family together in the grounds of the hospice was just wonderful.”

    The hospice’s inpatient unit manager, Sue Harvey, added that many of their patients enjoy visits from “four-legged friends”.

    They are a real talking point and are always so happy to be cuddled and play — Puzzle the horse was no exception,” she said.

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