PATIENTS with life-limiting illnesses will now be able to travel wherever they want from the comfort of their hospice bed – thanks to a generous businessman.

East Lancashire Hospice is offering patients the opportunity to travel to faraway lands, experience the thrills of a rollercoaster or even travel into outer space - all courtesy of virtual reality technology.

The VR system, costing around £3,500, has been donated by Ram Gupta from Blackburn-based Nybble IT to the hospice.

Hospice patients Mick Greenall-Baron, and John Taylor were among the first to trial the system.

Mick, who has heart disease, has family in Arizona and wanted to feel closer to his relatives.

He was able to walk among wild wolves - an animal he has a close affinity to.

He said: “It gives people a chance to see things they have no chance of seeing, it will help people in the hospice be happier. It’s like you’re really there. I don’t know how it works but it is magic.”

John, who has a type of blood cancer, enjoyed a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon to see the place where westerns are filmed.

He said: “I didn’t expect it to be so colourful, there were greens and reds and greys.

“Using VR is an escape and allows us to focus on something else. Now I can say that I’ve been.”

Ram and his team, who also competed in this year’s East Lancashire Hospice Corporate Challenge, came to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology – and staff loved the possibilities it offered.

Ram said: “Patients at the hospice who are too ill to travel or unable to fulfil their wishes could really benefit from it and have a totally immersive experience.”

The system, which comes with multiple headsets, also means patients can share the experience with loved ones at the same time.

Dr Karen Hogarth, senior hospice physician, said: “Quite often patients might be approaching end-of-life, but for various reasons haven’t been able to fulfil their wishes.

“VR helps to distract patients from the pain they’re feeling rather than reaching for medication. It’s a different way of helping them relax.”