Special visit for monkey fan on last day of his life

The marmoset with Ian Cadman at Wigan and Leigh Hospice
The marmoset with Ian Cadman at Wigan and Leigh Hospice

When hospice nurses found out just how much Wigan cancer patient Ian Cadman loved monkeys, they arranged a dream visitor for him.

Marmoset Millie was brought to Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) for Ian to see just a few short hours before he lost his battle against the disease.

Ian Cadman (right) with his nephew Stephen

Ian Cadman (right) with his nephew Stephen

Ian, 58, had told staff at the Hindley-based hospice about his lifelong fascination with monkeys, which included having four fluffy toys on his bed.

After he became too ill for a planned surprise visit to Knowsley Safari Park WLH decided to bring a monkey to the Kildare Street headquarters to see him.

His family spoke movingly of their gratitude to the hospice’s team for its thoughtfulness in arranging such a special occasion.

His twin sister Karen Lund said: “Even though Ian only got to see the monkey, for us as a family to know he’s had a real monkey there with him, meant so much to us.

For us as a family to know he’s had a real monkey there with him, meant so much to us

Karen Lund

“Since he was tiny Ian loved monkeys and always had a monkey of some sort. Ian had a favourite monkey called Jacko and another called Monkey and had over 800 fluffy monkeys in his flat – he was obsessed with them.

“We have decided we are going to do anything and everything we can to raise money for the hospice in appreciation of what has happened, everything that has been done for the family and for Ian.

“On his first day he said: ‘I like it here – here I feel safe’. It’s an amazing place and it’s not what I expected. I’ve not met a member of staff that hasn’t been caring and gone over and above. Nothing is too much trouble. Without the support we have had from the staff we would have just crumbled.”

Millie is the first monkey to visit the hospice, but the in-patient unit has hosted a veritable menagerie of furred and feathered friends including cats, dogs and birds.

Fund-raising manager Maxine Armstrong tracked down Tina Salmon from Lounge Room Lizards in Waterloo near Liverpool, who immediately agreed to bring Ian’s special visitor along.

WLH staff nurse Emma-Jane Ritchie said: “Ian was crazy about monkeys and talked about how much he was looking forward to visiting Monkey World in Dorset in June, so we all knew how much he loved monkeys, particularly as he had four cuddly monkeys in bed with him. We were all so enthused by the idea of Ian seeing real monkeys before he died.”

In 2014 Wigan Infirmary made national headlines when patient Sheila Marsh was visited by her pet horse during her final hours.