Rider survives serious brain injury to raise vital funds for air ambulance

  • A rider who survived a serious brain injury is raising money for the air ambulance which “saved her life”.

    Naomi Dobson, 47, a former joint-master of the Ludlow, fell from her eventer Lawrence while jumping at home in September 2015 and spent two weeks in a coma.

    Naomi told H&H: “I don’t remember anything about the fall or the three weeks after the accident. I was told I was jumping a double, Lawrence knocked the fence and took it with him, I came off and he fell on top of me. My groom, Lou Burns, was there and thought I was dead.

    “Lou called 999 and an air ambulance came. When it got there they found I had a collapsed lung. Another air ambulance with a trauma unit came and they had to put a drain into my lung and then flew me to hospital.”

    Naomi was diagnosed with a diffuse axonal brain injury but said “amazingly” she didn’t suffer any broken bones.

    They tried to wake me up from the coma but couldn’t; I had a score of three [on the Glasgow Coma Scale] which is as low as it can get without being dead,” said Naomi.

    “I spent a month at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingam and then another month at Central England Rehabilitation Unit in Leamington Spa. My first memory is when my dogs were brought in to see me and I remember being pushed in a wheelchair outside.”

    Naomi was released from hospital in November 2015 and she started riding again in January 2016.

    I’ve always been so active and spent my life hunting and eventing. I got on my horse Henry who I’ve owned for 16 years, since he was four – he’s the most amazing horse and we’ve been through a lot together. I had to be led round and have someone on each side of me to start with,” said Naomi.

    Naomi started hunting again the following Christmas but says she only jumps smaller fences due to the lasting effects of the brain injury.

    “I get exhausted very quickly, and struggle with balance. Every morning I get brain fog which starts five minutes after I wake up and gets worse through the day. Three years on I’m still not back to how I was and don’t think I ever will be. Talking to people can be really tiring because of the concentration I need to get words out especially if I don’t know someone,” said Naomi.

    “I would have gone berserk if I couldn’t ride – it’s my life. Because I have no recollection of the accident there is no fear factor but I am very protective of my head.”

    Naomi is taking part in the Saving Lives Challenge on 28 November to raise funds for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and will cycle a bike for two hours. The challenge is a five-day fundraiser from 26 November to 30 November where participants will cycle static bikes or run on a treadmill around the clock in the main atrium at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

    The hospital and air ambulance saved my life. If it hadn’t been for the air ambulance I wouldn’t have been able to get to hospital so quickly and the Queen Elizabeth staff were amazing,” said Naomi. “I thought the challenge is something I can specifically do, I can’t run or cycle a normal bike but I can ride a static bike. The hardest part of the challenge will be my energy levels; every day I need to go to bed in the afternoon for an hour and a half from exhaustion.

    “The air ambulance have no funding and rely on donations. I’m determined after this I want to carry on fundraising for them – they provide such an important service and we rely on them.”

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