A Burton man received a very special visitor at St Giles Hospice last week, when his horse came to visit him.

Ron Smith, a 66 year old former mechanic, was reunited with Jay, his 15 year old horse in the gardens of the Whittington hospice.

For Ron, who has been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, seeing Jay was the one thing he wanted and his sister Sandra Bull said the pair were delighted to be reunited.

“Ron fell in love with horses and riding when he visited Texas around 20 years ago – he started riding and never looked back,” she said.

“He got Jay 4 years ago and rode him five or six times a week. They have a really close bond – Jay nibbles Ron’s hair and hands, particularly when carrots are involved.

“Ron really missed Jay when he was first admitted to hospital and when he was transferred to the hospice, one of the first things staff offered to do was arrange for Jay to visit.

“I didn’t think it would be possible for Ron to see Jay again, but thanks to staff at the hospice and at Lullington Hill Stables, where Jay is stabled, he was able to come and visit.

“It was a really lovely moment for Ron and Jay and the connection between them was so obvious – it was a really emotional moment for everyone involved.”

Ron Smith with Jay + the team from the stables

For St Giles Director of Nursing Katie Taroni, being able to bring Jay into the hospice clearly demonstrated what hospice care is all about.

“At St Giles we talk about doing what matters for our patients and it’s clear that for many people what really matters is their family including their animals,” she said.

“We welcome dogs into the hospice on a regular basis but I think this might be the first time we have had a horse.”

“We were delighted to be able to help Ron achieve his wish to see Jay. It was a lovely thing to witness and the team were all proud to be part of it.”