Terminally-ill market trader granted hospital visit from a much-loved friend… his shire horse
Mr Thorpe had welcomed thousands of visitors to Chesterfield along with Ben the horse



12:53 GMT, 6 July 2012

A cancer-suffering trader had his final wish fulfilled when his much-loved market horse visited him at hospital before he died.

Thomas Thorpe, 74, was well-known in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, as the man who welcomed visitors to to the town along with Ben the horse.

Mr Thorpe was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January this year passed away at Clay Cross Hospital last Thursday morning.

Thomas Thorpe, 74, was visited by his shire horse Ben

Thomas Thorpe, 74, was visited by his shire horse Ben

However, before he died, he was able to see his beloved friend one final time.

Donna Clark – the wife of Mr Thorpe's nephew and owner of the market horses – said: 'He loved it. He was overwhelmed.

'We are going to miss him terribly, but we are just relieved that he is no longer suffering.

'He loved those horses so much. He was always out wanting to spent time with them. He loved being on the market, with Ben and the other horse Sam.'

Mr Thorpe, who was known as Sonny to his friends, started working with the market horses in Chesterfield six years ago, and stayed in the role until falling ill.

One of his last wishes was to see his beloved horses before he died, which was granted him by members of staff at Clay Cross Hospital.

Ward manager Rita Snowdon, said: 'Our patient's family enquired if they could bring Ben to see his owner one last time at the hospital. After negotiations and planning we managed to pull off the special visit.'

The shire horses were introduced to the market over 30 years ago, and the driver was employed to assist with waste collection in the town although for health and safety reasons this no longer happens.

There was controversy in the town earlier this year, when the local council moved to retire the much-loved tourist attraction, sparking outrage.

Fans have this week paid their respects to Sonny. One, Dean Hallsworth, said: 'R.I.P town won't be the same without the horse and cart'.

Julie Rushby, added: 'Sonny you were a legend. God bless you old friend.'

Mr Thorpe's funeral took place today.