A patient celebrating her 21st birthday in hospital enjoyed a special surprise thanks to staff on the ward.
Alex has been on the Plym Unit, a specialist neurological rehabilitation service on the Mount Gould Hospital site in Plymouth since July 2018 after her car was involved in an accident with a bus.
Alex, a keen horse rider suffered a severe brain injury which left her in a coma for five weeks.
She has benefitted greatly from the regular donkey visits from Ivy Bridge Donkey Sanctuary.
With this in mind, Laura Owen one of the health care assistants on the unit arranged for one of the Royal Navy Mascot horses to visit Alex on her special day.
Cathy Gillespie, chief executive of the Royal Navy Royal Marine Stables, Bickleigh, said: “When we got the call we immediately wanted to help.
“Alex has two horses and loves them dearly. Because of her tragic accident she has not been able to see them for nearly a year now which is so sad. We are taking one the Royal Navy’s mascot horse to help her celebrate her 21st Birthday. Alex had a strong bond with horses so you never know this may help with her on-going recovery.”
Mum Sarah and dad Ralph who travel from their home near Falmouth every day to visit Alex, said they were thrilled.
Sarah said: “We were hoping Alex would be home in time for her birthday and when we knew she wouldn’t be we wanted to do something special for her.
“Laura surprised us and organised this visit which we’re so grateful for.
“Alex is a real animal lover and has two horses at home. Watching her with the donkeys when they come on monthly visits is amazing because she really interacts with them. It’s hugely stimulating and positive for her.”
During the visit Alex reached out to stroke the horse, took him on a walk and fed him some apple.
Laura, who organised the visit, said she was inspired to do something special for Alex after seeing her engage with the donkeys.
“Katie Stokes, our occupational assistant has been organising for the donkeys to visit monthly because of the positive impact the visits have on our patients,” she said.
“It’s really relaxing for the patients when they visit and Alex surprised us all last month when she held out a grooming brush to one of the donkeys.
“I wanted to do something special for her birthday and it’s been so touching to see her so happy today.”
Sarah added: “We can’t wait to have her home in a couple of weeks to bring some normality back to our lives and continue Alex’s recovery.
“The Plym Neuro unit team have all been so amazing. Everyone always takes the time to stop and talk to us.
“Even if we could afford the best private healthcare in the world, you wouldn’t get anything better than the treatment here; Alex has been in the best of hands.”