A terminally ill woman was able to experience the joy of her love of horses one final time thanks to the team at North Devon Hospice.

Barbara Higgs meeting Lorri the horse. Picture: North Devon HospiceBarbara Higgs meeting Lorri the horse. Picture: North Devon Hospice

As part of Hospice Care Week, which runs until Sunday, the hospice is sharing stories about how its care helps the community, while dispelling some common myths and misconceptions.

A very special visitor came to see Barbara Higgs, who was staying on the Bedded Unit.

Having enjoyed watching horses frolic in the neighbouring field from the balcony of her hospice bedroom, Barbara was treated to a more close-up encounter when Lorri the horse actually came to see her.

It was a very special moment for horse-loving Barbara: “She was brought up with horses on the farm in Cornwall,” said her son, Barry Higgs.

“My great grandfather actually owned the farm and he bought her a horse called Lady. It was jet black, and it was an ex-Grand National runner. Mum absolutely loved that horse.”

Lorri came to the hospice and proudly strutted round the courtyard, after he was brought in especially by his owner Jess Burford-Redgrove, who also works in the hospice’s fundraising team.

Despite being wheelchair-bound and very poorly, Barbara got to spend meaningful time with Lorri, stroking him on the nose as well as feeding him carrots, in what was a tender and intimate experience.

Barry said it reminded his mum of her childhood days on the farm: “It brought back memories for her for sure, because all the time she was sat outside with the horse she kept saying ‘Lady! Lady!’ which was mum’s horse from 80 years ago. The pleasure that it gave mum, and the smile on her face, was absolutely magic.”

It is experiences like this that make North Devon Hospice’s care extra special. When Barbara told nurses on the Bedded Unit about her love for horses, they were determined to arrange a real-life encounter.

It is an example of going the extra mile to make sure that time spent in the care of North Devon Hospice is full of special moments.

Sadly, Barbara died shortly after the visit. But this encounter was one of many happy memories created at the hospice during her final weeks, that will live long with her family.

Barry said: “She came in and she was very, very poorly. Yes, we knew that her illness was terminal, but the care that she had at the hospice was second-to-none. I cannot thank the staff enough for what they did for mum.”