‘This is my purpose now’: mum of young rider who took her own life to walk 170 miles towing resin horse

  • The mother of a talented young rider who ended her own life is to walk 170 miles with a resin horse for company – as her purpose now is to help save others.

    Emma Webb’s daughter Brodie died aged 16, on 10 March 2020. Since then, Emma has raised thousands in aid of suicide prevention and awareness. She hopes to do the same by walking from the David Broome Event Centre in Wales to the ExCeL in the Docklands, home of the London International Horse Show.

    “This is all I want to do now, it keeps me going,” Emma told H&H.

    “As a parent nothing can prepare you for such tragedy. For your whole world and everything you live for to be gone within the space of a few hours is beyond comprehensible. At 7pm on 10 March 2020 I still had my beautiful girl by my side, laughing and joking, and by 9.30pm she was gone. My purpose for living, my role of being a mum was just ripped away in a heartbeat and being replaced with only a huge void.

    “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.”

    Emma and Brodie had spent most of their time together; at the yard and travelling to shows.

    “She was very passionate about horses and showjumping and I backed it as much as I could,” Emma said. “We were so, so close; it was just the two of us. What happened was totally unexpected.”

    In 2021, Emma walked 285 miles to mark the 285 lives lost to suicide in Wales the previous year, Brodie’s among them.

    Read Brodie’s story

    “That raised thousands, and I also make ‘Horseshoes of hope’. I decorate them, and they’re taken to places where hopefully if people who are struggling see them, they can get support,” she said.

    The shoes bear a message telling the finder “You are not alone”, and along with the #DoItForBrodie hashtag, they have QR codes directing the finder to the Do it for Brodie website, with signposts and links to available help and support.

    “I thought for ages about what else I could do,” Emma said. “I wanted a challenge, something poignant for Brodie, and the idea came to me to walk to the ExCeL. We used to go to Olympia every year; her birthday was in December and it was the start of the whole Christmas period. December was a lovely month for us, so I thought ‘I’ll walk to London’.

    “But then I thought if I walked alone, it wouldn’t raise as much awareness, and that’s when the idea came; I thought I’d drag a big plastic horse with me. I think I may have turned a bit bonkers!”

    Emma was keen for it to be related to her daughter’s life, hence the horse and the start point at David Broome’s.

    “She loved going there, and they’re always amazing,” Emma said.

    The horse will wear an Equiport rug, as just before Brodie died, she had saved for a “beautiful” show rug made by the company, and this will bear the names of sponsors. The horse will be mounted on wheels to make its journey to London easier.

    The details of the Leg on to London walk are yet to be confirmed, as Emma plans to find out how many miles per day she will be able to walk with the horse, and then time her leaving so she will arrive during the London International Horse Show.

    “I’ve got a good relationship with the 3 Dads Walking [whose daughters also took their own lives], and when they walked through Wales, they asked for people’s help along the way,” Emma said. “I thought some of the equestrian community might help out and let me stay along the route, and that some people might join me to walk some of the way.

    “I hope the horse will survive the journey! It’s heavier than I expected but I’m going to do it. This is my purpose now.”

    The walk will raise funds for Riders Minds, and Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide).

    “There’s still such a stigma around mental health and I want to raise awareness of the barriers, particularly among riders,” Emma said.

    “Brodie had quite a following on Instagram and I get messages through it from people who are struggling, and I signpost them to the right places. It’s so sad and I want to help everyone, but I can’t. I just hope this can help; it would mean the world.”

    Where to get help

    It may be easier to speak to an expert in confidence. The new Riders Minds hotline is available, as is the BGA’s Grooms Minds and EEA’s Employers Minds. Racing Welfare also offers an extensive range of services for those seeking help and advice. PJA members can call the Cognacity helpline (www.thepja.co.uk). Other riders can access resources and a confidential helpline at mind.org.uk or samaritans.org.

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