Shetland pony visits bedside of Eastbourne woman, 88

Betty Burchett and Bailey the Shetland pony SUS-170220-151425001
Betty Burchett and Bailey the Shetland pony SUS-170220-151425001

An 88-year-old horse lover’s wish to see the animals again came true when a Shetland pony paid a visit to her care home.

Betty Burchett, a Sunrise of Eastbourne resident, has had a life-long passion for horses, having owned, trained and loved them from a young age.

Having been in low spirits for some time, it was Betty’s love of horses, combined with the dedication of a Sunrise staff member, which began to turn Betty’s life around.

In December, Betty was declining her food and was barely drinking. She was becoming very frail.

Betty and her designated care assistant, Emma Draper, spent many days chatting, reflecting on life, and sharing happy memories.

Upon hearing that Betty’s one wish would be to run her hands through a horse’s coat one more time, the pair struck a deal.

They agreed that Betty’s wish could become a reality and that a trip to a nearby stable would be arranged, if Betty was able to eat the food she needed to build up the strength to go.

A few weeks later, Betty wrapped up in a warm coat, hat, gloves and a scarf, and she was reunited with her beloved animals, after a long time apart.

Taken to the local yard by Emma, Betty was able to meet many different breeds of horses, and enjoyed spending time with the yard dog too.

She was overwhelmed by the incredible day and how special it felt to be reunited with the horses.

Betty took a few strands of hay as a memento to remember the precious day, which she now keeps in her room which is adorned with photographs of her winning horses from racecourses around the country.

The Sunrise of Eastbourne team also organised another special day for Betty last week.

Bailey, the eight-year-old miniature Shetland mare from Seven Sisters Pet Pals, paid a surprise visit to the Eastbourne home.

As well as being patted and stroked lovingly by all the residents for more than an hour in Sunrise’s Reminiscence neighbourhood, Bailey paid a special visit to Betty’s bedroom, coming right beside her bed to be stroked.

The pony’s entrance made Betty’s face light up, and she was smiling and laughing as she stroked Bailey.

Emma’s small but thoughtful action has made such a difference to both Betty and her family, who have been overwhelmed by the opportunity for Betty to spend special time with horses once again.

General Manager at Sunrise of Eastbourne, Fiona White, said, “The transformation in Betty since visiting the stables and now being visited by Bailey, has been incredible.

“She is a new person, and the sparkle is back in her eye. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean so much to our residents and families.

“We are so proud of Emma, who constantly goes above and beyond her duty to look after residents and ensure that their lives are enriched with the things they love.

“Emma selflessly going the extra mile epitomises the culture of care here at Sunrise of Eastbourne, and we are delighted that Betty has had such a special few days.”