PATIENTS at Warminster Hospital had a special visit this morning which left them all in high spirits.

Charlie, a rescue donkey from Mike's Donkeys who has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, Casualty and more, put his acting hat to one side and donned his therapy hat to bring some light relief to people in the Longleat ward of the hospital.

The visit was organised by ward manager Anne-Marie Nuth and the hospital’s chaplain, Carole Owen.

Mrs Owen said: “The idea came to me after I saw how much joy a Shetland pony and dog brought to people at a nursing home I visited last year in Truro.

“I’d heard about Charlie through his TV work so got in contact with his owner, Kelly Baker, and we organised the visit.

“He really did seem to brighten up everyone’s day at the hospital, including staff, patients and pupils from St Lawrence School on work experience.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a visit of this nature at the hospital but it was such a success we’re exploring the possibility of doing it with another animal.”

Research shows that interacting with animals can be beneficial to the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of patients as it can reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety and help with sleeping patterns.

Mrs Nuth said: “Love that is given by animals is without condition; connections can be formed which are inexplicable we hope this special visit will provide some fun and warmth and a spark of continued conversation.”