Residents at Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton have been treated to a live nativity featuring a dozen farmyard animals.
Miniature donkeys, pygmy goats, lambs, Brahma chickens and pigs helped recreate the traditional stable scene with a baby Jesus and manger.
Residents at the Home, which provides loving, compassionate care for veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, were able to meet, stroke and hold the animals during the visit on Thursday 12 December.
The Home’s Activities Manager, Raquel Pena Aristizabal, arranged for the visit with Millers Ark Animals, with handler Chris Fowler dressed as shepherd. Research shows stroking animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase social interaction and physical activity. It has also been shown to help battle depression and loneliness.
Raquel said: “We have so many activities taking place in the run-up to Christmas, but this is one of the highlights. The residents always love it when animals come and visit the Home, and they loved the nativity scene. It was beautiful.”
One resident said: “The animals are lovely. I enjoyed stroking them. It was a fun and unusual thing to do.”
Millers Ark’s Chris Fowler said: “I love coming here, it’s good for the residents to spend time with the animals. It’s good therapy for them, and it’s also good for staff and relatives too!”