Therapy ponies, Charlie, Pickles and Romeo, are bringing joy to patients at Lister Hospital.

The charity-funded visits have been organised by patient experience project coordinator, Jane Shaw to help put smiles on the faces of patients and staff at the hospital.

Jane said: “We have had such an incredible response to having the ponies visit us. The surprise and delight on people’s faces is so amazing.

“It can be hard being in hospital, especially if you have to stay in for a while. A visit from a pony is a special moment that helps give patients a real lift and genuinely improves their wellbeing.

“When the ponies come to the ward you can feel a hugely positive change in mood. Patients want to sit up, stand up, stroke the ponies and have their photos taken. There is a buzz of conversation and excitement which energises everyone.

“We have seen patients smile for the first time in days and even had one young patient, who had been having a really hard time, relax, laugh and chat to staff after seeing the ponies.

“Visitors also enjoy the visits – for many it is a welcome opportunity to make a positive memory whilst their loved one is in hospital. The ponies also give our hard-working staff a chance to smile, relax and recharge during what can often be a long and stressful shift.”

Holly Clarkson, a patient at Lister Hospital in July, said: “After a week in the hospital, it was a lovely surprise to meet Charlie the pony. He was so gentle and calm and instantly changed the atmosphere on the ward.  He made me, and everyone else, feel happy and forget our worries.”

Lindsey Head, the owner of the ponies, added: “They all have a good shampoo and have to be absolutely spotless and dust-free to come into a hospital environment and they just love people stroking them and cuddling them and talking to them.”

Eloise Huddleston, director of East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity which supports Lister Hospital said: “The therapy ponies bring so much joy whenever they visit the hospital.

“They brighten our day and help patients feel that little bit better. They are a highlight in what can be long days in hospital for patients and our staff.

“We do rely on donations to fund the pony visits, so if you can help put smiles on the faces of our patients and staff, please go to: Thank you.”