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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Cumbrian woman's life torn apart by horror smash

Rachael Farrell’s life was torn apart 12 months ago when she was involved in a horror crash which robbed her of her life’s passion of riding horses.

Rachael Farrell photo
Rachael Farrell

Related: Horse trainer badly hurt in car crash may never ride again

The 34-year-old has bravely spoken for the first time about the traumatic event which has left her with a brain injury, memory loss, a broken neck and ligament damage to her knee.

On top of her physical injuries, the devastated mother-of-two has had to come to terms with the fact that she will never ride a horse again – riding has been her love since she was 11-years-old.

Miss Farrell, of Lowca, near Whitehaven, dedicated her life to horses, competing in shows, helping out at local stables as well as training others how to ride.

She even left her job at Sellafield because she knew she wanted a career with horses.

But her dreams were cruelly taken away from her on July 17, 2011, when she was just one exam away from becoming a qualified trainer. This week at Carlisle Crown Court, 20-year-old Amber Sullivan, from Cleator Moor, was fined £3,000 and banned from driving for six months after pleading guilty to careless driving after the car she was driving, with Miss Farrell in the passenger seat, smashed into a tree on the A66 at Broughton Cross.

Even though the court heard from Sullivan what had happened on that day, Miss Farrell’s mind remains blank.

“I can’t remember what happened on the day of the crash because of my brain injury,” she said.

“It will never come back to me – I can’t remember anything until seven weeks after.”

She was thought to be dead at the scene, but she eventually showed signs of life and was cut out of the car by firefighters and rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where she stayed for five weeks, with 10 of those days being in an induced coma.

Her injuries were a broken neck, collar bone, cracked shoulder, ligament damage to her knee and moderate brain damage.

She spent a further two weeks in the Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle and was confined to wearing a halo-type brace on her upper body for 14-weeks.

“How I’m still here and not paralysed I don’t know - I’ve been very lucky,” she said. “It has been the worst 12 months ever. Because I look okay, people think I am. But I can’t go for long walks or things like that and I’m always tired – I’m like an old lady.

“One of the hardest things was not being able to cuddle my children when I was wearing the halo. Not a day goes by when I’m not bawling my eyes out.

“Riding horses was my absolute life. I know my life’s nothing like it used to be and I’m going to be like an old woman – but I’m still here, my children still have a mammy and I’m not in a wheelchair.

“I’ve just got to accept who I am.”

Ironically on the day of the crash, Miss Farrell’s car was in the garage so she took the unusual step of being a passenger in Sullivan’s car while they drove to a horse event at Morpeth.

Speaking about Amber Sullivan is a sore point with the family. Miss Farrell said: “She wasn’t a friend of mine, she was a girl I went to college with and knew through the horses. She has never been in touch with me since – not even to say sorry.”

It’s the support of family, friends and colleagues that have got Miss Farrell and Mr Naylor through the past year - especially the help from her parents Linda and Edward Farrell who cared for their daughter at their Frizington home when she first came out of hospital.


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