East of England Co-Op makes pony Jack Brock dementia ambassador
- Credit: Anglia Picture Agency
A Shetland pony from East Anglia who works with the elderly in care homes has been named a dementia ambassador by the East of England Co-Op.
The pony, known as Jack Brock, has been visiting people in care homes for two years in a therapeutic role. He also appears at local events to raise awareness about the condition.
Now to recognise his efforts in helping people Jack has been presented with his own, specially made jacket by the company’s joint chief executive Minnie Moll to denote his new, important role.
Ms Moll said the company became aware of Jack around two years ago after his owner, Ali Champion, began to take him into care homes herself.
“She saw the impact he had on people,” said Ms Moll, “they would light up.”
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Jack is 14 years old and was rescued by Ms Champion. Jack is small even for a Shetland Pony and stands at about 28 inches height.
That makes him the perfect size to go and visit people, even those who are bed ridden.
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“He isn’t properly a thoroughbred and he wasn’t wanted but now he has found his place,” said Ms Moll.
The sight – and often smell – of Jack has been enough to bring back memories for those living with dementia.
“It’s absolutely extraordinary,” said Ms Moll.
“There have been instances where people have not spoken for months, speak.”
“There’s that whole deep connection which seems to cut through and light up people who may have been closed.”
Jack is not the only animal to play a therapeutic role.
Ms Moll said she was aware of other animals such as pygmy goats, miniature donkeys and dogs who also help humans in this way.
As for Jack Brock he will continue to make appearances at local care homes and will also be appearing at this year’s Norfolk and South Norfolk shows.
There’s even talk that Jack Brock may get his own book in the near future: documenting his tale from rescue pony to therapy pony and local celebrity.
Hopes are high that all his new found fame won’t go to Jack’s head, though it may be harder to keep him away from one of his favourite treats: cake.
“We had a special cake made for him for the launch,” said Ms Moll.
“He really likes cake and he started troughing away.”