Diana has been supported by Racing Welfare, when she has most needed support, for the past eighteen years. Diana suffered a T5 and T6 spinal cord injury when her horse, which she rode on a daily basis, fell after tripping on the gallops. Only a week previously she had been enjoying life in racing, leading up a winner at Towcester in her role as a Head Girl in Lambourn. That morning was to change her life forever, however, leaving her paralysed from the chest down.
Racing Welfare saw Diana through the rehabilitation from the injury and helped get life back on track. Ten years ago, with support from her physio, the charity was able to purchase her a Lifestand chair which was to transform her quality of life – physically and mentally. Just to be able to reach items on a higher shelf, or to be able to meet others at eye-level, is a life changer.
A particularly memorable experience provided by Racing Welfare was a holiday to Arizona in 2005 which saw four racing staff with long-term injuries get back into the saddle and ride Tennessee Walking Horses, renowned for their comfortable paces, at a specialised ranch for disabled riders. Diana, who since her accident had experienced only involuntary spasms in one leg, began to feel the toes in her right leg.
Fast forward to 2015 and Diana’s original chair had reached the end of its working life. After writing a letter to Racing Welfare, the charity was able to equip her with a new state-of-the-art chair which has allowed her to continue to have the greater freedom and confidence that she had with the original chair.
Having been presented with the first chair by Mike Cattermole, it was therefore fitting that he should meet her again at Plumpton racecourse in April 2015 and catch up with her progress. The Plumpton date was part of Richard Farquhar’s Walking The Courses challenge; in meeting Diana it gave him real pleasure to see how the charity helps people throughout their lives, beyond racing.