One of those old-timey “feel-good” stories for you all this SONday, and I challenge anyone not to be moved by this remarkable piece; sad in some ways, yet uplifting and inspirational at the same time.

Wigan, as many of you know (most of you actually) is the the former cotton-mill town in northern England which is the town of my birth, and that of my sister, where she and her husband, brother-in-law John still reside. Made famous additionally by George Orwell’s “The Road To Wigan Pier” which he completed in 1937 after spending most of the previous year living in the town researching and writing.  Wigan Royal Infirmary was the location of many family “ins-and-outs” as you can imagine, to say nothing of a few deaths as well.

RIP Sheila, your story certainly brought a tear or two to this old guy’s eyes and what a great “horsepital” and “horsepitality” on display for all concerned. How very kind of the hospital staff to show such understanding and compassion and to make such an effort for Mrs. Marsh in her final hours.

What a wonderful story. Pure love. That horse Bronwen knew exactly why she was brought there – and she didn’t disappoint. 😉 ♥

Horse brought to hospital to say goodbye to its dying owner

Moving photograph shows final goodbye between Sheila Marsh and horse Bronwen outside Wigan Royal Infirmary

Sheila Marsh, 77, in her hospital bed being gently nuzzled by her horse, Bronwen

Sheila Marsh, 77, in her hospital bed being gently nuzzled by her horse, Bronwen.

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.”

“There are countless opportunities to comfort others, not only in the loss of a loved one, but also in the daily distress that so often creeps into our lives.”
~ Billy Graham, Unto The Hills, 1986