Mansfield woman who fell off horse in Spain urges public to support stranded Nottingham teacher

A Mansfield woman who suffered horrific injuries during a horse riding accident in Spain nearly 16 years ago has spoken about her suffering.

Horse enthusiast Helen Ward, 49, speaks as 24-year-old teacher Rebecca Chisholm, from Nottingham, is left stranded in Dubai after falling off a horse and suffering a brain injury earlier this year.

Helen Ward riding her horse Apachie at Newstead Abbey.

Helen Ward riding her horse Apachie at Newstead Abbey.

Helen suffered a similar fate in December 2003 when she smashed her pelvis to pieces after falling off a horse and hitting a boulder during a riding trip near Barcelona. 

Helen had been riding an unfamiliar horse during the trip, which she said was “frothing at the mouth” and had not been ridden for more than eight weeks. 

She was riding on a mountain path when she fell off the horse and “smashed to the ground, hitting a boulder on impact”, causing “agony” and leading to a hospital ordeal. 

Helen said: “It was steep, I managed to stop him but it was that steep that I lost my seat as he was very sharp and I smashed to the ground.

Helen Ward with Oliver Townend, an event rider at Badminton 2019.

Helen Ward with Oliver Townend, an event rider at Badminton 2019.

“I was driven to a nearby medical centre to be told that they couldn’t do anything.

“I was taken to the University Hospital in Tortosa which was an hour away. I couldn’t believe it, I was in agony.”

Luckily, prior to the trip, she took out £12.50 travel insurance which meant she was covered for the medical bills - £13,500 to bring her home and £25,000 to “rebuild me”. 

She was informed by her insurers that she had shattered her pelvis, and that they had arranged for her to be flown back to England and brought to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre - where she was told she “may not walk or ride a horse again”. 

Stranded Nottingham teacher Rebecca Chisholm, right, pictured with her mum Wendy Skelton.

Stranded Nottingham teacher Rebecca Chisholm, right, pictured with her mum Wendy Skelton.

However, her consultant discovered her pelvis could be rebuilt using titanium plates, allowing her to ride again after years of physiotherapy. 

She says she feels “lucky” at her situation because she was fully insured and was able to be flown home easily.

However, the Nottingham teacher who is currently in Dubai has not been so lucky.

The insurance at her ranch could not pay out, meaning she has been left in a Dubai hospital unsure of whether she can travel home.

Her family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to bring her home, which includes £60,000 to be airlifted back to England.

Helen added: “Thousands of riders go abroad on riding holidays, but they need to ensure that they are fully insured for all riding, medical and repatriation costs.

“I have donated to the GoFundMe as that could have been me. She is only 24 and has got so much to live for.

“I encourage people to give generously because it is a worthy cause - at the end of the day it could be you.”
You can donate to the GoFundMe page here: gofundme.com/help-bring-critically-ill-daughter-home-from-dubai