A tiny pony and a duck proved a big hit when they came to visit their owner Julie Walton in hospice.
He may only be 30” high, but Billy the Shetland Pony lifted the spirits of patient Julie while she was receiving care at the hospice. He was joined by his feathered friend Daisy – Julie’s pet duck.
The visit was arranged by Julie’s friends Phillipa and Val, who are currently caring for Billy.
Julie, who has now returned home after her nine-day stay at the hospice to treat the symptoms of her bowel cancer, has enjoyed three visits from Daisy – who is actually a boy – and one visit from Billy.
Julie, from Waterside in Darwen, said: “I knew I was having a visitor but I didn’t expect a duck and a Shetland Pony to walk down the corridor.
“Billy used to live with me at home, but when I got too poorly to look after him he was cared for by a friend. I’ve had horses and ponies for around 40 years, and Billy for four years.”
Julie, who has six ducks, three geese, eight chickens, a parrot, a horse and a pony, said: “I was just sat in my room when one of the nurses came and opened the doors to my room and in walked Billy and Daisy. It was a total surprise.
“Everyone from the hospice was crowding around them. The staff thought it was fantastic. To have my pony walk in just brightened my day.
“I think it’s brilliant that the hospice allows pets. They don’t need to be there long for people to get real benefit from seeing them.“
Julie has had Billy for three years, and Daisy for eight years and said they were ‘very well behaved’ during the visit.
East Lancashire Hospice said many of their patients enjoy visits from four-legged friends.
Sharon Crymble, Fundraising Manager, said: “East Lancashire Hospice believes in trying to make every day the best day possible for patients and their families. We want them to feel at home – and if that means them bringing in their pets then that’s what they can do.
“Being able to provide Julie with an opportunity to see the Billy and Daisy in the hospice was just wonderful."