A miniature horse brought smiles and laughter to elderly people at an activity and wellbeing centre.

Mr P (for “Mr Perfect”), a 15-year-old American miniature horse, visited the Redcar and Cleveland council-run activities and wellbeing service at St Germain’s Grange, attached to the supported housing scheme for elderly people in Marske, Redcar, to the delight of tenants, day visitors and staff.

He brought back special memories for tenant Vera Tate, 88, who spent her working life on a North Yorkshire farm.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Vera Tate with miniature horse Mr P

“I love horses," she said. "We had one who went with my husband Derek everywhere. One day Derek slipped and couldn’t move and that horse just stayed him for hours and hours until help came. We had a cat who followed the horse everywhere too, right behind him. I did everything on the farm, drove tractors, sawed wood, milked cows, made butter – you name it.”

Other visitors to the activities and wellbeing service centre reminisced about much loved animals they had had in their lives as Mr P calmly walked from person to person to be petted.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Miniature horse Mr P with Sharon Welford and Katie Smith

Katy Smith, who brought Mr P from her KL Pony Therapy and Events centre at Northallerton, said Mr P was the first of her miniature horses and she now has 11. She and her miniature horses have travelled the country to visit not only centres for the elderly but children’s hospitals, universities, and schools. “It doesn’t make me a millionaire when it comes to money, but it makes me feel very rich in so many other ways," she said. "We get smiles everywhere we go. It’s joyful.”

Sharon Welford, support co-ordinator at the activity and wellbeing service, said the residents and day centre visitors enjoy a range of entertainment and activities from pet dogs to pantomimes, major outings to indoor quizzes.

Cllr Lisa Belshaw, council Cabinet member for adults, added: “The therapeutic benefits of connecting with animals should not be underestimated. I'd like to thank everyone who supports our elderly people at St Germain’s and across the borough."