THE dying wish of two ill patients at a Herefordshire hospice came true when they were paid a unique visit just days before they passed away.

Jeanne Crome and Janet Russell were so fond of horses that one of the patient's God-daughters arranged for two of the animals to meet the pair at St Michael's Hospice.

Not well enough to walk to the Bartestree hospice's main entrance, 69 year-old Mrs Crome, from Ross-on-Wye, was wheeled to reception to greet the equines, named Ace and Bounce, turning heads among hospice staff and other patients while doing so.

Mrs Russell, meanwhile, who lived over the border in Gloucestershire, met Bounce on the Hospice veranda.

Sadly, just a few days after the visit, both women died.

"I'm all for making a difference to our patients," said Verity Nicholas, staff nurse at St Michael's.

"Janet had a love of horses. Her husband said she loved seeing the horse. Knowing both these ladies saw their life's passion before they died makes me happy."

The idea came from Jennifer Morris whose daughter, England Rugby's sports physiotherapist Katie Davis, visited her God-mother Mrs Crome in the hospice and mentioned she has two eventing horses which Mrs Crome expressed an interest in seeing.

Mrs Russell, 66, heard about the visit and was also able to see the animals.

"You could see the joy they brought to people," said Mrs Morris.

"It did so much for us as a family. We all felt uplifted, and managed to do it in the nick of time.'"

A hospice spokesperson said the experience will stay with staff for a long time.

"Both Jeanne and Janet died soon after the visit, but they both received a wonderful and unexpected experience at the hospice that will stay with all of us for a long time," said the hospice's communications assistant, Rachel Entwisle.

"St Michael's Hospice is committed to helping our patients and their families live life to the fullest."