‘I didn’t want it to end’: mum walks from Wales to London in late daughter’s memory

  • The mother of a young rider who took her own life aged 16 has completed a 170-mile walk to London to raise money for and awareness of mental health issues.

    Emma Webb towed the almost life-size resin horse aptly named Miles from the David Broome Event Centre in Wales to the ExCeL, where the London International Horse Show (LIHS) is under way.

    H&H reported last summer that since Brodie died, in March 2020, Emma had dedicated her life to raising money for charities and trying to help others.

    “After losing my beautiful girl I realised that I had two choices; to lie down and admit defeat or to stand up, carry on and fight on to help others,” she said at the time.

    Emma wanted to take on a challenge that was relevant to Brodie, so decided to walk to the LIHS, which she and her daughter had visited every year at Olympia, towing Miles.

    She left Chepstow on 25 November and arrived at the ExCeL yesterday (13 December), and has already raised over £51,000 for Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide and Riders Minds.

    “It’s more than I ever could have dreamed of,” she told H&H. “It’s just amazing.”

    Donate to the fundraiser

    Emma and Miles have faced plenty of challenges en route, not least organisational.

    “It’s been so much more complicated than I thought to organise,” she said. “Because of Miles and planning the journey; you can’t just walk 10 miles a day because you can’t get in a taxi to a hotel after that, and trying to get my luggage transferred from one place to the next – but people have been so lovely.”

    As horses tend to do, Miles went “lame” twice on the road but once a woman in the area asked her in for coffee, and her engineer husband mended Miles. The second time, a member of the LIHS team was walking with Emma when Miles’ T-bar broke. So Emma’s companion called her husband, who came to the rescue.

    “It seems like every barrier we’ve faced, there’s been an angel there, so say ‘It’s ok. We’ll sort it out’,” Emma said. “It feels like two minutes ago that I left, but it also feels like a lifetime.”

    Another standout moment of the journey was meeting Prince William, on day 13 of the walk.

    “We’d heard he’d seen what we were doing on the news and that he wanted to support it in some way but he literally just jumped out at me on the streets of Slough!” Emma said. “He walked with us for about 25 minutes, and it was an experience I’ll remember forever.

    “He was so nice; I didn’t know how to address him and sort of jumped back and said, ‘Oh my gosh’, but he put me at ease straight away and gave me the biggest hug. He said how much mental health means to him, and how glad he was to be able to support what I was doing. It was lovely.”

    Other challenges included navigating narrow towpaths, and walking backwards on the narrow path next to parts of the A4 to ensure Miles did not fall into the traffic.

    “But I didn’t want it to end,” Emma said. “I feel like Forrest Gump, like I could just go on and on, walking and walking to raise awareness.”

    Emma had a break in her walk on 10 December, which would have been Brodie’s 20th birthday; she went back to Wales to raise a glass of Brodie’s favourite prosecco in her memory.

    She and Miles will be on a stand at the ExCeL for the duration of the show.

    “It makes it a bit easier that it’s not at the same venue, but it is still difficult to go back there,” she said. “The LIHS team has been amazing; they’ve pulled out all the stops. Miles will be on the stand, which is lovely, and I hope people will come and take information and just chat to me about the journey.

    “This is has been more than I could have hoped for, to keep Brodie’s memory alive, and keep pushing to make a positive difference to mental health. We have to break down those barriers and I think Miles does that; so many people have come up to talk about their own mental health and I think he’s a lovely conversation starter, and lots of people give him a pat, like he’s a real horse, then start talking. Everyone has low mental wellbeing and it’s OK to reach out and ask for help.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...