The former beach donkey paid a visit to a Manchester hospice and brought some much-needed cheer to patients and carers across the city.
The heatwave has had crowds flocking to the country’s coasts for seaside sun and fun. But, for patients at one hospice, an element of the traditional outdoors came to them, as therapy treasure and former beach donkey Charlie came to visit.
‘Cheeky’ Charlie was one of a group of donkeys who worked in Scarborough before coming to live at The Donkey Sanctuary’s Manchester centre, where he is involved in assistive therapy.
Now, aged 10, he left best friend Pringle for a morning, to visit staff, carers, patients and their loved ones at St Ann’s Hospice in Cheadle.
During the visit Charlie, who is known for his love of ginger biscuits, met patients and staff in the courtyard and went to bedroom windows so that everyone could see him.
Day care patient Genevieve Grey, 80, was especially happy to meet Charlie. She said:
“I’ve always loved animals, if I was able to I’d have him.
“I’d want him to come to live with me and I’d build a shed or shelter for him.”
Charlie’s visit comes when end of life issues are high in the national psyche, after former MP Tessa Jowell’s plea to the House of Lords, just weeks before she died, to recognise that ‘in the end, what gives life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close’.
The visit was arranged by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning (MHCC), as part of their ongoing plans to bring more personal choice in where and how people receive palliative care. It also represents the holistic and flexible nature of hospice care.
Adele Crompton, an equine coach and coordinator at The Donkey Sanctuary said:
“Donkeys have a natural emotional intelligence and react positively to human contact.
“There’s something very pure about seeing an animal in front of you. There’s no judgement and it takes a lot of people back to their childhood.”
Eamonn O’Neal, Chief Executive of St Ann’s, said:
“Everyone loves a donkey. There is something unique about these wonderful animals and the effect they have on people. It was a pleasure to welcome Charlie and Adele to the hospice, and our patients, staff and volunteers loved meeting them. Charlie was a real hit with everyone, and his visit is proof that no two days are ever the same at St Ann’s.”