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Maidstone therapy ponies meet Heart of Kent Hospice residents on Animal Rescue Channel 4 TV show

Residents at the Heart of Kent Hospice had three unexpected visitors when a Channel 4 TV crew came to call.

TV vet Noel Fitzpatrick turned up with two special therapy ponies at the hospice in Preston Hall, Aylesford, near Maidstone.

The visit, and residents' reactions, were filmed for the week-long Animal Rescue Live Supervet Special and was broadcast on Wednesdayat 8pm.

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TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick with therapy ponies Dame Maggie and Princess Rose at the Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live
TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick with therapy ponies Dame Maggie and Princess Rose at the Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live

The ponies, called Dame Maggie and Princess Rose, were rescued as a pair by Alex Taskin from Maidstone when their owner was evicted and had nowhere to keep them.

Alex said: "Our little stars showed how rescue animals give back the love they receive in spadefuls."

The pair of ponies emitted charm and calm as they trotted into the centre where residents were allowed to pet them.

Therapy ponies met residents at the Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone thanks to TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live (15365558)
Therapy ponies met residents at the Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone thanks to TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live (15365558)

The last visit of the day was to see 81-year-old former film stunt rider Alan.

Irish vet Professor Fitzpatrick, 51, now based in Surrey where he runs Fitzpatrick Referrals, hosted the nightly shows which were raising funds to help re-home abandoned animals from rescue shelters.

He said: "The air in the room lightened as soon as the ponies entered. We all need light in our lives."

A therapy pony nuzzles up to 81-year-old Alan at the Heart of Kent Hospice watched by TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live (15365556)
A therapy pony nuzzles up to 81-year-old Alan at the Heart of Kent Hospice watched by TV Supervet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The encounter was featured on Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live (15365556)

Sadly, Alan died from cancer a few days after the film was made.

The ponies have helped 500 people over the past three years.

The programme raised £420,000 for animal charities.

The Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone (15365554)
The Heart of Kent Hospice near Maidstone (15365554)

The hospice was founded in 1991 and opened by Princess Diana the following year.

It provides care for people in Maidstone, Aylesford, Tonbridge and Malling and surrounding areas who are facing the challenge of a life-limiting illnesses.

Staff help nearly 1,000 patients and their families a year either in their own homes or at the hospice.

It costs more than £5m a year to run the service.For details of how to donate, visit www.hokh.org

For other animal stories in Kent, click here

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