Housebound cancer patient treated like royalty at the races

Brenda Hart from Durrington at Fontwell Park Racecourse
Brenda Hart from Durrington at Fontwell Park Racecourse

A horse-racing aficionado was treated like royalty when her carers took her out for a day at the races.

Brenda Hart, 92, who has terminal breast cancer and is housebound, had a day she will never forget at Fontwell Park Racecourse, which treated her and her carers Nat Smith and Pat Arnold to a VIP day out just before her birthday.

(Left to right) Pat Arnold, 66, Carol Ashby, 70, Brenda Hart, 92, and Nat Smith, 38. Pictured at Brenda's home in Durrington.

(Left to right) Pat Arnold, 66, Carol Ashby, 70, Brenda Hart, 92, and Nat Smith, 38. Pictured at Brenda's home in Durrington.

She said: “I would like to say thank you to Fontwell. It was a lovely gesture really; it was something special.”

When asked if she enjoyed the day, she said: “How long is a piece of string?”

The trip came about after Nat, 38, emailed Mandy Austen from Fontwell, and she was so touched by Brenda’s story that she set up three VIP tickets for them to watch the horse racing.

With her hair set and wearing a red outfit and a black fur coat, Brenda, accompanied by Nat and Pat, enjoyed a flutter on the horses and on the last race of the day she won £9 on Spirit of Chartwell.

The trio were also invited to the trophy presentation and the parade ring, and saw the horses at close range.

Brenda’s birthday was two days after the visit on November 19, and Fontwell put a dedication in their programme for her. She also received a history book of Fontwell signed by the owners and jockeys.

Nat said people were coming up to them all day to give Brenda kisses and hugs. She said: “We were treated like royalty. So many people kept coming up and saying happy birthday. You hear about all these horrible things going on but this was such a lovely thing to do.”

After a fall in April, Brenda lost her ability to walk and spent six weeks in hospital. She had to fight to be allowed to go back to her home in Adelaide Road, Durrington, but is now housebound, so her carers from Premier Nursing in Arundel have to visit four times a day.

Pat, 66, said: “When you turn 100, we will have to take you to Vegas or the Kentucky derby, won’t we Brenda?”