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Alpaca Therapy: Lawrie’s Story

Lawrie started to receive support from the Helping Hands Shrewsbury and Telford Team in 2019 following a sepsis infection. After a number of weeks in hospital, Lawrie was able to return home, but the sepsis had left long-lasting effects on his overall wellbeing and he was unable to care for himself. However, when they were introduced to their main carer, Sarah, Lawrie and his wife Gill found a new therapy that was able to make their lives just that little bit brighter…

“In 2010, Lawrie had an abscess in his brain,” Gill explains, “but he had so much aspirin in his body that they couldn’t operate. By the time they could, his brain wasn’t the way it was, so we got a new Lawrie. Later, he contracted sepsis, which sadly he has never fully recovered from.”

For Lawrie, the most important thing was to be able to live together with Gill in the home they had shared for so many years. So, a support plan was put in place with our care team in Shrewsbury and Telford, and Lawrie and Gill were introduced to their main carer, Sarah. Whilst Sarah provided the usual high-quality care and support, there was something else that she had that made an even bigger impact on Lawrie and Gill…

“I started to have alpacas around three years ago,” Sarah explains, “and I absolutely love them. You could sit and watch them for hours because they’re so therapeutic. I have nine in total, but only five of them are therapeutic alpacas and can be taken out for the day, so these are the ones that Gill and Lawrie see most often.”

Gill says: “I used to take Lawrie up to the field where the alpacas live and sit by the gate so Lawrie could see them. There wasn’t a lot that he could do, so it gave us something nice to enjoy together. When we went up to see them, they’d get nosey and come to see us. I’m always giving Sarah my old potato peelings as a treat for them.”

But when Lawrie was too poorly to go out, Gill and Sarah had another idea to try and cheer him up…

“Lawrie had been in bed for seven weeks without being able to get out,” Gill explains. “He couldn’t walk and he had suddenly got so ill. Sarah and I wanted to do something to cheer him up, and we’d always talked about the alpacas, so we decided to surprise him and bring a couple into the house to see him.”

Sarah says: “I had them in my trailer because I’d taken them out to see the team in the office, and on my way home I stopped by at Gill and Lawrie’s and knocked on the window to surprise Lawrie. I’ve brought them over a few times now and they absolutely love it. Lawrie even talks to them! They make a noise called ‘humming’ which is how they communicate with each other, and Lawrie hums back at them!”

Now, thanks to Sarah and Gill’s support, and the extraordinary visitors that he so frequently finds in the conservatory, Lawrie is able to find therapy in a completely different way, in the shape of four very affectionate alpacas.

“When I found out that Helping Hands covers our area, it was such a huge relief. And then we got Sarah and it was the biggest bonus of all! We couldn’t live without her. Lawrie loves her to bits. I love her to bits. We have a house full of alpacas. Life isn’t so miserable and frightening. My load is lessened. It really is fantastic.” – Gill

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