An elderly cancer patient has died just hours after she was granted her final wish to be reunited with her favourite horse as she laid in her hospital bed.
Sheila Marsh told staff at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan she wanted to say a last goodbye to her horse, Bronwen, whom she had looked after for 25 years.
They arranged for two of her horses to be brought to the hospital car park on Monday and the 77-year-old grandmother was wheeled outside by nurses in her bed.
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After Mrs Marsh gently called to Bronwen, the animal bent down gently and nuzzled her cheek - with the moment captured in a touching photograph by hospital staff.
Mrs Marsh, a mother-of-two who used to work at Haydock Park Racecourse, died hours later on Monday night.
Her daughter Tina, 33, praised staff at the hospital for helping her mother achieve her final wish.
"I was happy because she got to see her favourite horse," she said.
"She had a big smile on her face and she was able to say Bronwen's name, after she had found it difficult to speak.
"The staff were absolutely fantastic. The nurses who looked after mum were brilliant."
Bereavement specialist nurse Gail Taylor said Mrs Marsh, from Wigan, had also been reunited with her dog who spent an hour on the ward curled up in a blanked next to her.
She said: "End-of-life care with our patients is paramount and fundamental to what we do.
"We put our patients and family at the centre of everything we do, especially in their last days or hours of life. We listened and acted on Mrs Shelia Marsh's last wishes.
"We have captured many pictures of this special moment to be collated into a commemorative photo album which we will present to Tina and family."
Pauline Law, deputy director of nursing, said: "I am really pleased to have been able to facilitate the visit from Mrs Marsh's horse.
"This was obviously extremely important to her and her family and we feel privileged to have been able to provide this support at this crucial stage of her care.
"It is absolutely right that we should pull out all the stops to ensure that our patients and their families receive personalised, compassionate and dignified care at the end of their life and this is what we will always strive to achieve."