A dying grandmother was granted a final wish of seeing her favourite horse one last time – after the animal was brought to visit her in her hospital bed.
Sheila Marsh, a 77-year-old grandmother-of-four, passed away from cancer just hours after the horse, named Bronwen, was brought to see her at Wigan Royal Infirmary.
Mrs Marsh, who had raised the horse over 25 years since it was a foal, was wheeled outside the hospital for the meeting.
Their last encounter was captured in a moving photograph that shows the horse nuzzling up against her.
Gail Taylor, bereavement liaison specialist nurse at the hospital, said: “We listened and acted on Mrs Marsh’s last wishes.”Sheila gently called to Bronwen and the horse bent down tenderly and kissed her on the cheek as they said their last goodbyes.”
Mrs Marsh’s family arranged for the horse to visit her after her condition deteriorated.
Mrs Marsh, who lived in Bickershaw, Wigan, had a life-long affiliation with horses and used to work at Haydock Park Racecourse.
Her daughter Tina, 33, said: “She loved her horses and she loved and adored all animals. She had six horses, three dogs, three cats and other animals.
“Her condition did not get any better and the hospital allowed us to bring Bronwen in. It was a matter of hours later that she passed away. I want to thank the hospital and all the nurses.
“I was crying my eyes out and all the nurses were crying too. She took comfort out of it and it was a beautiful moment.
“It was very important for my mum. She was one of the most hard-working people that you could meet and she would do anything for anyone.”
Pauline Law, deputy director of nursing at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am really pleased to have been able to facilitate the visit from Mrs Marsh’s horse. This was obviously extremely important to her and her family and we feel privileged to have been able to provide this support at this crucial stage of her care.
“It is absolutely right that we should pull out all the stops to ensure that our patients and their families receive personalised, compassionate and dignified care at the end of their life and this is what we will always strive to achieve.”
Andrew Foster, chief executive of the trust, posted the image on Twitter and said it highlighted how trust staff went ‘the extra mile’ to make Mrs Marsh feel comfortable.
He wrote: “With the family’s permission here is how @WWLNHS go the extra mile to deliver the wishes of a dying patient.” The post was widely shared and re-tweeted. Twitter users – including hospitals across the country – applauded the hospital for its kind-hearted efforts and others said the image brought tears to their eyes.
Gail Francis, writing on Twitter from Stratford-upon-Avon said: “What an amazing photograph. Anything that makes the last days/hours bearable should be applauded x.”
And Lizzie Legate added on the social networking site: “Beautiful moment for them both. Well done everyone for an amazing effort to provide a treasured moment.”