A miniature Shetland pony has been the guest of honour performing the opening ceremony at a charity facility for young people.
Three-year-old Buddy officially opened the “Pod”, an initiative created by charity Bridge the Gap, at Noble’s Hospital, Isle of Man on Friday (9 November), by nibbling through a carrot suspended on ribbon.
The charity was set up in 2014 by Fiona Barker with the help of friends and family.
Fiona told H&H: “Tragically we lost our son Ross in 2013 at the age of 18, following a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
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“We set up Bridge the Gap to improve facilities and support for teenagers and young adults with complex, chronic and life-threatening medical conditions and to support the transition from paediatric to adult care. Up until the age of 16, a teenager receives care on a children’s ward; after the age of 16 this will be on an adult ward, but a teenager does not become an adult overnight.
“We wanted to create an age-appropriate VIP-type lounge and with the help of Val Lloyd of Architecture in Mann and local builders Organic Construction Solutions we have created an oasis of calm for these young patients to spend time away from the adult ward when their condition allows,” said Fiona.
Fiona said the charity has designed the pod with the patient in mind and is working in partnership with the Departments of Health and Education.
“The charity is linking with other charities such as Teenage Cancer Trust, which has donated a signature jukebox for the pod. Through the partnership Bridge the Gap will fund the salary of a youth worker, who will offer support to these young patients. The youth worker will also train with the next intake of Teenage Cancer Trust youth workers.
“The Pod will be a place to relax and chill, play musical instruments and watch TV with youth worker support available if needed.”
Fiona said there was no one better to open the Pod than Buddy, who is in training to be a therapy pony.
“Buddy is a little gem who always puts a smile on your face and so who better to open the pod to show that little things really do make a big difference,” she said.
Kellogs, a 26in high pony, attended the 2015 Animal Hero Awards on behalf of his best friend Twiggy, who was
Love them or loathe them, a Shetland pony will keep you on your toes with their mischievous antics and here's
“We tried to keep it a secret that he was attending the opening, but as soon as he arrived at the hospital nurses appeared to take selfies with him – everyone just loved seeing him there and what could have been a stressful occasion turned into something quite lovely.”
The charity has received financial support and donations for the Pod from the Isle of Man community.
“Our main sponsors are named on a tree-of-thanks that is above the entrance to the Pod. It’s quite overwhelming to see what we have created and great to be on the steering group which will ensure the best use of the facility by those who really need it,” said Fiona.
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