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Amazing Anya rebuilds her life after horrific accident

BRAVE Anya Wheatcroft is determined to fulfil her dream of becoming a riding instructor - despite an horrific accident that nearly cost her her life.

BRAVE Anya shows her horrific injuries
BRAVE Anya shows her horrific injuries

BRAVE Anya Wheatcroft is determined to fulfil her dream of becoming a riding instructor - despite an horrific accident that nearly cost her her life.

The plucky 16-year-old lost her right eye after being kicked in the head by a horse two weeks ago - with doctors warning that if she had been hit just half-an-inch higher she would have been killed. She needed six hours of surgery to rebuild her shattered face and remove her eye, and she spent more than a week in Blackburn Royal Infirmary before being allowed home.

Anya, who lives with her grandparents Dorothy and Fred in Waddington Road, Accrington, said that the accident happened as she was riding her friend's horse on a farm in Icconhurst, Green Haworth.

She said: "I let go of the reins to put my jacket on and as I put the coat over my shoulders the horse bolted. I managed to stay on but as we got to the end of the arena, it dropped its shoulders and dodged. I came flying off and hit the fence. I remember saying that my back hurt but things went black after that. I don't remember anything else.

"Apparently, I had got up to catch the horse but it turned back and kicked out. All I remember is waking up in hospital. The first thing I said was: 'What happened, am I dead?'"

Anya, a former Mount Carmel High School pupil, said that the accident had left her with a broken cheekbone and jaw, and surgeons had to insert three metal plates around her nose, cheekbone and eye socket to rebuild her face.

She added she would be given a temporary false eye once her face had healed, before having it replaced by one hand-painted to match her other eye.

She said: "The side of my face was completely smashed in. I think it's lucky that I'm quite big-boned - if my friend had been kicked instead it would have killed her as she is quite slender. When the doctors said they wouldn't be able to save my eye, my dad broke down in tears - the whole family was heartbroken. But I just said: 'I'm not bothered, I've got another one.'

"When I get my false eye I'll have full movement and I'll be able to cry and blink. It could take a year or two but I should be looking as normal as everybody else."

Anya added that she was determined to return to her equine studies course at Crow Wood Equestrian and Leisure Complex in Burnley, and eventually hopes to achieve her ambition of becoming a riding instructor.

She said: "I will be going back to college as soon as I'm well enough. I have been riding since I was seven and I'm missing it so much - I can't wait to go back. But I wouldn't be this brave if it wasn't for the support of my family. They have been behind me all the way."

Her mum, Tracy Meath, said: "I was terrified when I heard the news about Anya. But she has been so brave, she has put us all to shame. Even the doctors said they were humbled by her bravery."

Anya's stepmum, Lyndsay Wheatcroft, added that they had been keeping a daily improvement diary to chart her recovery and she thanked the staff at Blackburn Royal Infirmary, including the maxillofacial team, for their work. She said: "The hospital is obviously very busy but the staff there couldn't do enough for Anya. They were all absolutely marvellous. Anya nearly died but she has managed to stay so positive throughout all this - I don't know how she does it. She has been brilliant."


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