On Friday 19 July Heart of Kent Hospice was delighted to welcome three very special guests. Professor Noel Fitzpatrick and local therapy ponies Dame Maggie and Princess Rose spent the afternoon at the Hospice filming for the week long ‘Animal Rescue Live Supervet Special’. The Hospice will feature on the live programme being broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday 14 August, 8pm.

Former Blue Cross ponies, Maggie and Rose are regular visitors to the Hospice. The therapy ponies are used to spending quality time with patients, their carers and families, and are loved by everyone they meet. Whether it’s visiting a patient in their bed while they are in the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit or meeting patients during one of the daily activity sessions, the reactions that the ponies evoke are personal and unique.

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, not only took Maggie and Rose, along with their owner Alex Taskin to meet patients and their families, but learnt about the range of services the Hospice provides and met many excited volunteers and colleagues. Noel was particularly interested to learn that as an independent charity the Hospice relies on the generosity of supporters to help raise £4 out of every £5 that is spent supporting terminally ill people.

Kerry Harrison, Heart of Kent Hospice’s Patient Services Director says “Everyone at the Hospice was very excited about the filming. Noel was extremely interested in the work that the Hospice does, and how the therapy ponies are one of the ways that we provide therapeutic and sensory benefits to patients and families living and coming to terms with a diagnosis of a terminal illness. Noel went out of his way to really spend quality time with everyone and his visit will be a lasting memory for many. When Noel, Maggie and Rose entered our Making Memories group, for people with dementia, there was a clear buzz of excitement and anticipation.”

Maggie and Rose’s owner Alex Taskin says, ‘We adopted Maggie and her daughter Rose three years ago. They had been handed into Blue Cross as their previous owner could no longer care for them. We soon found that these two have a very special talent, we realised they were so empathetic, so we started introducing them to therapeutic work with some autistic clients, as well as students from the London Pupil Referral Unit, who are unable to attend mainstream school. This was just a small step to start taking them into a hospice – which is where the magic really happens. The happiness and solace they bring to everyone in this environment is so special. Everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”

To find out more about Heart of Kent Hospice and how you can support us, visit www.hokh.org

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