‘Words can’t express how grateful I am’: para rider meets team who saved her life

  • H&H blogger and para dressage rider Suzanna Hext has had an influential meeting with the men who helped save her life after a serious fall.

    Suzanna was competing at two-star level eventing before she had a riding accident at home in 2012 that changed her life.

    After months in hospital and nine operations she was able to swap her wheelchair for crutches and returned to the saddle.

    Since then she has taken up para dressage with great success and was long-listed for the Rio Paralympics.

    Last week (20 January), Suzanna was reunited with paramedic Richard Miller and head of operations Kevin Reed at the Wiltshire Air Ambulance base.

    “It was really nice to get to know the people that rescued me — it’s the final piece of the jigsaw,” she told H&H.

    “If they hadn’t saved me the situation could have been very different.

    “I don’t feel like I can say thank you enough — no words will really express how grateful I am.”

    Charity ambassador

    The meeting was particularly special as Suzanna was asked to become an ambassador for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

    “It’s a huge honour,” said Suzanna, who had already been volunteering for the charity.

    “It’s good to raise the profile of Wilshire Air Ambulance and the air ambulance service in general.

    “I think people underestimate the fact that they are funded purely by donations.

    “As part of my role I will be helping Wiltshire raise £1.25 million for another base, which means they will be able to reach all parts of the county within 11 minutes.”

    Suzanna’s fall in 2012 was the second time she had been saved by the air ambulance.

    When she was 13 she fell at a Pony Club event, broke her pelvis and was airlifted to hospital.

    “For me now that feels like a distant memory, but at the time it felt like the end of the world,” said Suzanna.

    “Now I have a bit more perspective on life — seeing people in hospital who have had accidents going through what they go through makes you realise how lucky you are.

    “Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.”

    Suzanna now has rides on Abira (pictured) and Ljt Enggaards Solitaire and is aiming for the Europeans in August.

    “It all seems to have happened so quickly — it’s only two and a half years since I first got back riding after my accident.

    “Being long-listed for Rio was just mental. I couldn’t have done it without Pammy Hutton and Talland and my support team.”

    ‘Fantastic role model’

    Kevin, who was serving police officer at the time of the accident, spoke of Suzanna’s visit.

    “It’s always nice to meet patients that you have been involved in the treatment and care of and we were all delighted to hear Suzanna’s amazing news,” he told H&H.

    “She’s such a fantastic role model and it’s quite incredible what she has achieved since her accident.

    “She has great personal strength and determination.

    “She refers to us [himself, Richard and pilot George Lawrence] as being ‘her heroes’, but we were purely doing our job on the day. What she has achieved is truly inspirational and heroic as far as we are concerned.

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    “We have asked her if she would be prepared to be an ambassador for our charity and we are very honoured that she has accepted.

    “Her involvement comes at a really important time for us as we have only just launched our major fundraising campaign for the new airbase.

    “We wish her well with her goal to be selected to compete at the 2020 Paralympics.”

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