Any animal lover knows how hard it is to be parted from your pet – especially when you are ill.
Most hospitals are no-go areas for patients’ pooches but at Ashgate Hospice the doors are open to all loved ones – even the four legged variety.
Something patient Linda Bradwell values hugely with regular visits from her beloved pug Penny.
Linda, from Holmesfield, said: “Having Penny with me all the time makes such a big difference because I love her to bits.
“Penny’s such a big part of my life and of my family.”
Linda, 64, had brought Penny with her to weekly sessions at Ashgate’s Day Unit, but when she needed a short inpatient stay to control her pain from acute rheumatoid arthritis, Linda was dreading the separation.
She added: “When they told me there was a bed ready, I actually panicked and decided I just couldn’t go into the hospice.
“But things got even worse and I just couldn’t carry on as I was. So when another bed became available, I decided I had to go, and it’s the best thing I ever did.
“The hospice has made a big difference to my life. At last, I can cope with everyday things.
“Before, I just used to sit and cry. I just had no idea that they could do all of this for me.”
But the thing that surprised Linda the most was that her beloved dog was allowed to visit her - and even stay in her room.
She added: “I had absolutely no idea that Penny could come and see me. I didn’t think they’d let dogs in at all and I thought I’d have to see Penny through the patio window but as it happened, I don’t and she’s in here with me every day.”
Wilma Hulland, Matron at Ashgate Hospice, said: “We know how much pets mean to our patients and we allow any well-behaved pet to come and visit - from hamsters to horses – we don’t mind.”
Linda is appealing for dog owners and their pets to take part in Ashgate Hospice’s Woofs and Wellies sponsored walk taking place on Sunday, March 16.
The fun 4.5 mile walk around Linacre Reservoirs is sponsored by Dunston Lodge and starts and finishes at Ashgate – with a shorter route available for those who get dog-tired.
Dogs walk for free but they are encouraged to get their paws on at least £30 in sponsorship, with a surprise for any mutt mustering up more than £150.
Ashgate is the second largest hospice in the East Midlands with more than 7,000 patient contacts a year.
The independent charity provides specialist care and support to local people with life limiting illnesses and their families across North Derbyshire.
Alongside a 21-bed inpatient unit and 16-place day unit, Ashgate provides a range of care and support to people in their own homes, as well as specialist palliative nurses at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Ashgate receives an NHS grant of £2.1m but has to raise a further £3.8m each year to ensure these vital services can continue.
If you and your dog would like to take part in the Woofs and Wellies Walk, please contact the fund raising team on 01246 567250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also register online at www.ashgatehospice.org.
Pictured is Linda Bradwell and her beloved pug Penny at Ashgate Hospice with healthcare assistant Elaine Biggs.