Benita Lambert fell from a horse two years ago and the horse rolled on her, resulting in no mobility from her waist down. This account is shared with us from Benita's own page with her permission. In her words:

"So today is the second anniversary of my accident and I’ve been ridiculously tearful leading up to it - like, ridiculously. I’ve tried to fathom why this anniversary has been harder than last year's emotionally, but I guess work, my babies, and just getting on with life in general probably hasn’t given me the reflection that rehab allowed me. That and a visit to the Devon Air Ambulance [airbase] last week...

"I had a wonderful letter from Patient Liaison Officer, Debbie Gregory, a month ago, asking whether I’d like to visit and to meet the guys that airlifted me to Plymouth. A quick discussion with Matt and the kids, who were excited far beyond beer and cake, and we arranged to go last Monday.

"Matt was emotional at the thought of the visit, the kids were animated at seeing the helicopter and I was, well, I was a bit ambivalent over it all. For Matt, it was emotional because he was there when the crew arrived and helped to load me skyward. For me, I was just concerned they wouldn’t recognize me with my clothes on, given the fact they had cut everything off me to check for swelling, injuries etc..

"But what a revelation they were, such dedicated professionals in their line of duty, in the most extreme of cases and not just in mine. We talked at length about the benefits of being airlifted as opposed to a land ambulance (not least because we were in a remote orchard in the middle of nowhere, that a land ambulance would never have reached), to the fact that being airbourne (and not bumped over a million potholes, which, incidentally, would have increased the state of my horrendous hair) most likely reduced the risk of further damage to my spine and the spinal cord, meaning that the mobility that remains after surgery is a direct result of having been safely airlifted, thus preventing further trauma. That in itself is a huge, huge reference to the amazing work they do and to which no simple words of gratitude will ever be enough.

"But it was very strange to meet the actual men who had so selflessly saved me from complete lower body dysfunction. I came away feeling mad with myself for feeling so disconnected to them - like really mad. Here were two absolute heroes in the eyes of all my family and friends, and yet I couldn’t get a handle on it all. And I was furious with myself knowing that I couldn’t feel what I was meant to be feeling; I wasn’t tearful, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t, well... I just wasn’t feeling anything.

"It may be to do with the amount of ketamine they had given me at the time (and no, the irony is not lost on me for that!). I was so sedated that I don’t actually remember them at all. I do remember them talking to me on-board the helicopter (I actually asked about a woman’s voice who I do remember, but she was a doctor on board coming back from North Devon and not actually there for the treatment of me (how blinking ungrateful did that sound when I asked!), but I don’t remember anything else, so it was impossible to try to find a connection to them, and I hadn’t even had a brandy to blame it on...

"So this last week has totally thrown me and I’ve spent more time feeling tearful about the whole situation than I have done in the last two years since the accident. But trying to process my thoughts has been cathartic. The air ambulance was the missing piece of my jigsaw puzzle; the one episode that I have absolutely no memory of. So by meeting the two gorgeously handsome medics (they will be pleased I have put this in, in an effort to redeem myself) it has unlocked that final chapter.

"My tears have been well shed; it has allowed me to process probably the most important part of my medical treatment, for without their rapid response, medical expertise and life-saving humour, my injuries could have been so much worse. And that’s what has upset me so much, the fact that I couldn’t convey my absolute gratitude to two wonderful men whom I couldn’t remember. I never even took them cake (some would say this is a blessing...) or a card - how rubbish is that? Almost a denial that the accident hasn’t happened - and there lies the crux of it all. For so many months now life has resumed to literally exactly as it was before the accident: Matt has returned to working away; I am back to work full time as before; the kids are amazing and have me running ragged with clubs, sports etc, and I still can’t cook a decent meal. Normal service resumed. So this invitation to visit was a stark reminder of a time that feels like aeons ago, something I had safely filed under ‘do not enter’ in my psyche.

"So this week has been hard as all the emotions have hit me full on in the face, remembering a time I thought I had conquered. Except, I have learned I have conquered it and that a revisit does not mean a total collapse like I thought I was going to have after leaving the airfield last week. I have done nothing but think. And after a whole week of thinking, of driving myself mad with conflicting emotions of what I should be thinking and of what I was actually thinking, I actually got fed up with thinking. I cannot change what has happened, but I can accept that life has changed. I cannot change the fact that Monday’s visit left me disconnected to myself and how I felt I should be feeling, but I can express the very utmost gratitude for a service that almost certainly saved me from complete paralysis and for which no blog, no words, no commendation will ever do it justice to the extraordinary job these guys do. And that is said with heartfelt emotion.

"So I may bake a cake and send it, I may write a card and send that too, or I may just tell you guys how amazing they are, how the whole operation is incredibly inspiring, how impressive the helicopter is, how fantastic they were with us, how nothing was too much trouble for the time they took to talk to us or, I may just include some photos so you can all see for yourselves.

"And so what am I going to do today? Well, today is Tuesday, and Tuesday is my riding day: Two years, no regrets, no self pity, no need to. I am surrounded by the most marvellous friends who see me as me, as I always was and always will be - here’s to the next few years, guys. Let’s see what we can achieve when the sky’s the limit."

Benita and her family assemble at the airbase to speak to the crew who airlifted her.


Benita's young son takes a place on the helicopter.