A MUCH-LOVED granddad was granted his dying wish by seeing his beloved horse just hours before losing his cancer battle at a hospice.
Hartlepool horse-lover John Ringwood, 81, was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs, kidneys and spine at the turn of the year.
The previously sprightly pensioner had only ridden his 12-year-old black horse Torm at Manes livery yard, near to Hart Village, days earlier on Christmas Eve.
But after being told the news from medics, popular John’s condition quickly worsened and he was admitted to Hartlepool & District Hospice, in Wells Avenue, on Monday, January 27.
The father-of-four quickly became renowned in the hospice for always talking about the horse, and his son Stephen Ringwood, 45, and nephew Paul Allen, 62, came up with the idea of bringing Torm to see John.
After clearing the idea with hospice staff, Torm was transported to the grounds of the complex – which cares for people with terminal and life-limiting illnesses – on Thursday last week.
John’s four-legged friend – who he bought after the death of his wife Muriel, 71, in 2005 – was led into the hospice gardens and up to the patio window doors of his room.
Nurses managed to wheel the former military man’s bed up to the open doors so Torm’s head was at John’s feet.
The grandad-of-eight and great-grandad-of-two, who had become quite weak before this, “perked up” at the sight of his horse and started talking to him.
Just hours later, at around 9.45pm, John slipped away peacefully.
Stephen, a dad-of-two from Seaton Carew, said: “It was a very emotional moment to say the least, but it was happy at the same time.
“Even a few of the nurses were in tears when my dad was talking to Torm.
“He got one of his final wishes to be able to see his horse who he loved very much. He loved him to bits.”
Paul, a boxing coach from Seaton Carew, said: “The horse went so calm and never stopped looking at my uncle John the whole time. For a while he perked up and was talking to Torm calling his name, saying ‘that’s my Torm’ and saying ‘don’t cut his mane and don’t cut his tail’. He loved him.”
“I don’t know why but something in the back of my mind told me that if he sees his horse then he’ll let go,” said Paul, a dad and grandad. “Then a few hours later he did just that.”
A spokeswoman for the hospice said: “Torm’s visit last week was a lovely thing, John really wanted to see his horse and his nephew Paul Allen was delighted to bring him. At the hospice we understand that every patient and family are individuals and this was something that was important to John and his family.”
Headland man John – who used to have taxi and wedding car firms, and also worked as a security guard and at Foster Wheeler, in Brenda Road – is set to have a military funeral at Stranton Grange Crematorium today at 11am. He served in the Royal Artillery from 1950-52.