Gabriella’s four-legged mate

Gabriella Kirkpatrick meets George the horse at Bispham's Trinity Hospice.
Gabriella Kirkpatrick meets George the horse at Bispham's Trinity Hospice.
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Visiting hours at a Fylde coast hospice were given an unexpected twist when a patient was joined at her bedside by a lovable animal.

Terminally ill Gabriella Kirkpatrick was delighted when George, the horse of a Trinity Hospice nurse, was taken to the Bispham site after staff discovered the patient’s love for all things equestrian.

Barbara Columbine, the owner of 13-year-old George, took it on herself to treat Gabriella, 60, whose bed was taken into the garden so she could meet her new friend.

Barbara said: “After discovering our mutual love of horses I just had to bring George to the hospice to meet Gabriella.

“Seeing the joy on her face as she fed him an apple was something really special.

“His visit brought many of the patients, including Gabriella, so much pleasure that he may be a regular visitor.”

Gabriella added: “Meeting George brought memories flooding back of the days I spent with my own pony, Pepper.

“It was so wonderful and thoughtful of Barbara to bring him into the hospital.

“I can’t thank her enough for what she has done.”

Gabriella was not the only patient to meet George, as he spent the rest of the afternoon being walked around the gardens greeting people through their windows.

Rachael Heaton, part of the fund-raising team at Trinity Hospice, said: “We had police horses visit a couple of years ago but this is the first time we’ve had something like this.

“We walked the horse past the main research facility to the hospice gardens and wheeled Gabriella’s bed out to the grass where she fed George an apple. It was really cute.

“Gabriella has horses of her own and after Barbara had chatted to her she thought it would be really nice to bring George in. Gabriella was delighted.”

Animals are regular visitors to the hospice and many of the patients can see their pets while they are at Trinity.

Rachael added: “We’ve had some donkeys visit in the past, as well as dogs and an owl – we get all sorts.”

A range of services at Trinity

Trinity Hospice provides specialist palliative care in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde and is equipped to deal with 20 adult patients in their main hospice and 15 day care patients.

Alongside its children’s unit, Brian House, the hospice cares for people of all ages who have life threatening or life limiting illnesses.

Services include providing care for patients and support and advice to families.

The hospice boasts a specialist Lymphoedema clinic with four qualified and experienced nurses.

Fund-raising for both Trinity Hospice and Brian House takes place throughout the Fylde coast and is backed by celebrities including Dancing on Ice star Dan Whiston.

Brian House opened in 1996 to provide care at a home from home facility for young adults and children on the Fylde coast suffering from life threatening conditions.

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