Special reunion for Chief and Rebecca after they both have surgery

Posted on February 21, 2019 by AireAdmin No Comments

There was a very special visitor to Airedale Hospital today ( 20.2.19) as a young patient was reunited with her beloved horse Chief, after months apart and them both having surgery.

18 year old Rebecca Slator from Bingley has complex disabilities and in December last year began suffering with breathing problems and exhaustion.  She was urgently admitted to hospital and underwent surgery at LGI to have a tracheostomy tube fitted on Christmas Day, to help her breathe, which will now be in place for the rest of her life.  Rebecca has been recovering on the Children’s Unit at Airedale Hospital since then.

Rebecca is a regular rider at Haworth Riding for the Disabled group and enjoyed her Saturday sessions riding her favourite horse Chief, but because of her surgery has not been able to see him for three months and the group weren’t sure when she would be well enough to ride again.  They then got in touch with hospital staff who didn’t hesitate to help make the reunion happen and today Rebecca and Chief met up in a garden in the hospital grounds.

Jane Lawrence, fundraiser for the Haworth Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group says:

“We just wanted to make a very special young lady’s dreams come true.  As it happens Chief has been poorly too and had to have facial surgery so we all thought this would be a very special and important thing to do for them both.”

“Riding for Rebecca is therapy, it helps her with her balance and her dexterity and it also helps us communicate with her through the horse.  And most importantly she gets pleasure out of it and she loves coming.  For Rebecca today it will be all about recognition and familiarity, she’s had a long time in hospital but she recognises Chief and knows who he is, it’s a great chance to be outside with him and have some fun.”

“Yesterday Chief went to the beauty parlour and was pampered and preened and today Jackie and Laura brought him in the horsebox from Haworth, fortunately Chief likes a little jaunt out.”

Mum Nicola Slator says:

“Seeing Rebecca like this after all she’s been through and all the operations, it’s joyous. When she first starting riding with the RDA she could only manage 10 minutes with two side walkers because of her musculoskeletal problems but her core strength has improved massively and she’s progressed to riding on her own.  The enjoyment on her face is magical.  Her face lights up when she sees horses.  You can see how much she loves it and how much Chief loves her, they have such a special relationship.”

Chief was one of the first horses bought for the Haworth RDA in 2001, Laura Butterfield, Head Coach at Haworth RDA explains about Chief’s achievements:

“He’s a little star.  He’s been down to Hartpury for the RDA National Championships and has also represented Great Britain in the Special Olympics with some of our riders and he got 2 Gold medals, a Silver and a Bronze.   He’s retired from competitions now but still enjoys his lessons.  He had a sinus infection, it’s not something they can completely get rid of it but it is something he can manage and live with now he’s had surgery.”

Nicola Thompson, Ward Manager from the Children’s Unit at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are so happy for Rebecca, she’s spent such a lot of time in hospital just recently and we hope it will help her feel better and get home quicker.”

Also there was Emmerdale actress Karen Blick who plays animal lover Lydia Hart in the popular soap.  Karen who lives in Ilkley was invited by the RDA as they are big fans and was very happy to be there and see the reunion.

Karen says:  “I was really delighted to be here today, this hospital is local to me, I live nearby and it has helped my children in the past so it’s really nice to come along and see and support in any way I can.  And the buzz around the place is really nice because Chief is here, it’s very exciting!”

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