By Mollie Tracey
Watch the touching moment a horse brings joy to a hospice patients final days.
Patrick Saunders, 87, had been staying at the North Devon Hospice for five days when he received a surprise visit from an un-expecting guest.
After talking with a group of nurses, Patrick confessed his love for horses and told them that he had spent his entire life surrounded by the animals.
The Hospice, which is situated next door to the North Devon Equine Rescue Centre, wanted to lift Patrick’s spirits and arranged for a brown stallion to visit him.
Sadly Patrick was not well enough to get out of bed to see the horse, but the nurses wheeled his bed into the courtyard so he could meet his special visitor close up.
Patrick was clearly overjoyed by his visit from Victor the horse, and got to feed him apples, carrots and polo mints.
The experience came as a real surprise to Patrick’s daughter, Jayne Hayes, 62, who had come to visit her dad and arrived to see him stroking the gentle animal outside the hospice.
Jayne 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, but that’s what the hospice is all about, going above and beyond.
“He’d actually had a couple of bad days and wasn’t himself at all, but he was absolutely full of beans when I arrived 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 for him.”
Patrick taught his future wife, Wendy, 85, to ride at his family’s stables when she was just 15 years old.
They later married and in time he taught their three children to ride.
In 2017 Patrick and Wendy celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary, but sadly Patrick was diagnosed with lung cancer in February.
Wendy said: “Patrick was born on the farm surrounded by horses, 17 in total, and growing up that’s all he knew.
“When I heard what was happening I was so excited for Patrick, I live far away from the hospice, so I couldn’t get there in time, but Jayne only lives five minutes away and I was so happy that she was able to be there with him.”
Sadly, Patrick died at the hospice just three days later, on June 27, but it is clear to see his final days had been brightened no end by his visit from Victor.