Horserider’s thanks for East Anglian Air Ambulance care

Many people in Norfolk's equestrian community have reason to be grateful to the East Anglian Air Ambulance service, and horserider Rachael Hall counts herself among them.

The mother-of-four, who usually rides with the West Norfolk Hunt, was out with the Norfolk Norfolk Harriers near to Bayfield Hall on March 3.

Rachael, who is from Blakeney and is known to the equestrian community as Diddly, was riding her large ex-racehorse Doodle.

She says: 'He's a lovely horse and had never ever left the ground before and hasn't since. I had a different thing on my bridle that I hadn't had on before and I think something on his bridle nipped him and made him panic. He ran backwards and then he went up and up and up until he couldn't go any more and we went over together.

'I remember being up in the air and thinking 'oh dear, this is really going to hurt'. Luckily he went to the side because he could have landed smash on top of me.

'I don't remember hitting the ground, but I remember people cutting my coat off me.'

Doodle was unharmed, but Rachael's left side was crushed, and as Bayfield is about an hour by land ambulance and there was concern over the severity of her injuries, the air ambulance was called out.

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The 999 call was made at 11.39am, the air ambulance was dispatched at 11.42am, had taken off by 11.45am, was overhead at 11.57am and the crew were with Rachael by midday.

A&E consultant Victor Inyang and critical care paramedic Ben Caine, because of their extra skills and training, were able to administer stronger pain relief, and as they were concerned that she could have pelvic injuries, they decided to fly her to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which is one of the best hospitals in the region for pelvic trauma, leaving at 12.25pm and arriving by 12.40pm – just an hour after the fall took place.

The next few hours passed in a bit of a blur for Rachael as she was flown to hospital and x-rayed in A&E. Thankfully she hadn't broken anything and was allowed to go home the same day, but she still needed a couple of weeks to recover, particularly from the shock of the fall.

Despite this, the keen rider, who used to work with horses, decided to get back into the saddle, and just a few weeks later, on April 1, she found it helpful to be able to watch the air ambulance tend to another rider who was hurt at a cross country event at Ringland.

She says: 'I didn't know how I would feel when I heard the helicopter because I have never been so terrified as I was then because of my children. But I was absolutely fine and it was brilliant to see just how quick and professional they were.'

Rachael, who is married to Steven and whose children are Milly, 11, Georgie, 10, Alfie, seven, and Bobby, three, has been fundraising for the charity and is planning a seafood dinner in June, with proceeds to be split between the air ambulance and another charity.

She says: 'If I can pay just something back towards the cost then I would feel a bit better.

'The sport that we do means that we are often so remote and the more than people are made aware that we need these guys the better. I was very, very grateful to them and one of my children made a card with a green cross on it to send to the men who helped mummy. Even now my youngest, who is three, is still flying about the living room with a helicopter and they all talk about flying a lot.'