THE fact Danielle Richardson was a student of the year is all the more remarkable, considering the pretty 17-year-old spent three weeks in a coma and had to miss two months of lessons.
Danielle, from Thornton, was involved in an accident while at a horse show in August last year – which left her with horrific internal injuries and meant she needed major surgery, and five weeks in hospital to repair the damage.
She said: “I was at a horse show in Peterborough, and I was just standing next to a horse, when it kicked me in the stomach and kicked me in the face.
“It all happened so fast that I don’t really know what actually happened. I ended up on the ground.
“An ambulance was called, and I was taken to hospital, but it didn’t look serious.
“Then they did some tests, and found I had a torn duodenum and damage to my pancreas – I had to have three operations. I was in intensive care for three weeks in a coma. Then in Blackpool Victoria Hospital for another two weeks.
“I suppose it was quite scary, but at first it hadn’t looked that bad. At the showground, they were going to let me carry on and take part, but it’s a good job they didn’t.”
The accident meant Danielle could not start her extended diploma in sport and public services at Blackpool and The Fylde College, with everybody else, in September. It was November before she was able to begin studying.
She said: “It took me a long time to get back to normal. When I first came out of hospital, I had two bags attached to me. When I had those taken out, I started to feel a bit more normal, but it still took me quite a while before I started to get back to my usual fitness.
“It did mean I had to work hard starting two months after everybody else.
“The college were saying at first I might have to wait and do it again next year, but I really didn’t want that. I wanted to be with people my own age and was determined to work hard and catch up and get back on track.
“The teachers were brilliant and really helpful. They helped with me catching up – I had all the support I needed. I was really surprised but pleased when they told me I had won the student of the year award for my department.”
The accident has surprisingly, not put Danielle off horses. She has not ridden much this year, but mainly because her own horse sadly died.
“I haven’t been put off riding horses as I wasn’t riding at the time – I was standing next to the horse. It could happen any time.
“I still want to work with horses, and would love to work with the mounted police.”
Danielle’s tutor Dean Whitehouse, added: “She is an example to all. Her bravery, enthusiasm and determination to catch up has been an inspiration and indeed a lesson to all who think they can’t do something because it’s too hard, and they are too far behind.”