A charity fundraiser badly injured in a freak horse-riding accident has seen at first hand the pressures on hospital staff and services.

Mum-of-two Carol Thomas, 56, of Slaithwaite , had her leg shattered when she was kicked by a horse on the Examiner’s Charity Challenge.

Carol was on horseback when she was struck full on the shin by a friend’s horse.

Fellow riders raised the alarm and Carol had to be airlifted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) by Yorkshire Air Ambulance .

The drama happened on Sunday, May 15 and Carol – raising money for Dementia UK – had her surgery cancelled three times.

Carol, main carer for son Jamie, 16, who has complex needs, said she could see services at HRI were under strain – but praised staff as “amazing.”

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Self-employed charity worker Carol said: “I don’t want to get into the politics of it all but you could see the impact lack of resources is having on the hospital.

“I have been going to hospitals with Jamie since he was born and his most recent procedure was in March so I am pretty clued up about how it works.

Horse rider, Carol Thomas of Slaithwaite who broke her leg whilst riding the Examiner Charity Challenge.

“I did notice in March there were not as many staff and everybody was under that bit more pressure.

“When I was on the ward there were patients coming in with very high needs – elderly ladies with broken hips and patients with dementia – and the service is doing its best to cope but it is groaning and straining.”

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Carol, who has another son Adam, who is 14 on Wednesday, told how she was with others on a trek on the moors above Meltham when pal Julie Allen’s horse spooked and kicked out.

It struck Carol on the leg, leaving her numb and then in agonising pain. It took a while for Carol and her friends to realise what had happened.

“I had slipped forward slightly and the others were laughing and telling me to get back on,” said Carol. “They call me Velcro knickers because I never come off!

Video thumbnail, Charity Challenge rescue drama
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“But I reached down and touched my leg and said: ‘I’m really sorry but I think I’ve broken my leg.’”

With the leg numb Carol was able to get off the horse and put herself into the recovery position. Friends rallied to help but it took 30 minutes for the first paramedic to arrive.

“Apparently it was a really busy day and there were lots of incidents and that was reflected in how busy the hospital was,” said Carol.

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“I was dreading to have to come down in a road ambulance but fortunately they called the air ambulance and an hour-and-a-half after it happened I was in hospital.

“The staff told me I would have my operation the day after, the Monday, but I was bumped three times and finally had surgery on Thursday and came home on Saturday.

“My situation wasn’t the worst. Another woman had her operation cancelled six times.”

Injured rider Carol Thomas is treated by paramedics as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance flies in

Carol, project development officer for Kirklees charity Parents of Children with Additional Needs (PCAN), added: “With hospital services you never know what you are going to get day-to-day. It needs resources and flexibility to adapt.

“I have a very high regard for the staff who were amazing and will be writing to Ward 20 to say thank you.”

HRI is under threat due to a hospital shake-up plan with emergency care being moved to Calderdale Royal Hospital .

“I’m just glad I wasn’t in Halifax,” said Carol. “It would have made it so much more difficult for people to visit me and my son Adam wouldn’t have been able to come on the bus straight from school like he did.”

Carol, married to Pete, 55, had a muted 30th wedding anniversary on Saturday and will miss out on a holiday to Spain next week.“It’s amazing what an impact a simple accident can have on so many others,” said Carol.