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Horror horse riding accident left Claire with a broken spine, now she’s a trainee paramedic

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A woman left with her spine broken in seven places after a horror horse riding accident is now hoping to work for the service that saved her.

Claire Walton, 28, had been riding her horse at a farm in Ingleby Greenhow in March 2016 when the accident happened.

Claire, from North Yorkshire, got her foot stuck in a gate post – and as the horse bucked she was thrown to the ground.

She said: “I had the feeling, I just knew instantly that I had broken my back. I just felt it go straight away. It was quite bad. I knew straight away that I had broken it.

“I just knew that I couldn’t move. I knew there was nothing I could do apart from ring for help. I was in a lot of pain.”

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA), along with other medics, rushed to the scene and Claire was whisked away to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

She was taken into theatre for emergency spinal surgery.

Luckily, Claire was not left paralysed – she says she thinks the break was “two millimetres” off her “spinal cord.”

She was up walking the very next day, but doctors stressed that if it wasn’t for the initial treatment and speedy transfer by air crews that Claire may not have been so lucky.

The accident didn’t put the keen horse rider off and a year later she was back in the saddle to raise money for the YAA.

“I have always been around horses and they are a big part of my life so it was never a question of if I would ride again get back into it, it was just when I was fit and ready.

“I decided to do fundraising just to sort of give back and say thank you,” Claire told Teesside Live.

She also had an “emotional” reunion with the man who helped save her – paramedic Andy Armitage.

Andy, who works with the YAA as an air crew paramedic, impressed Claire with his reassuring and calm nature on the day he attended her accident and when she mentioned that she had always wanted to work as a paramedic but thought she was too old to retrain, Andy inspired her by saying: “it is never too late.”

With inspiration in her sails, Claire enrolled onto an access course at Stockton Riverside College, before starting her paramedic practice degree course at Teesside University earlier this month.

One day she hopes to work for the service that saved her.

Claire added: “The Yorkshire Air Ambulance service is invaluable and I hope that one day like them, I can make a difference to someone’s life.”

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