Botfield family overwhelmed by community support for badly-injured daughter Emma

EMMA Botfield is now home in Moree and recovering but still undergoing rehabilitation after suffering horrific injuries from a horse-riding accident 12 weeks ago.

And she is looking forward to catching up with her many friends and family at the three-day Jump4Em fundraising campdraft in her honour at Warialda this weekend.

The local community has rallied around Emma and her parents, Steve and Jean-Mary, and this weekend (October 13, 14 and 15) that support will be showcased.

Steve and Jean-Mary, as well as their son James, are completely stunned by the support that continues to flow from Moree and the wider community.

“We are overwhelmed and very appreciative of all the messages of support we have received  . . . we cannot thank everyone enough,” Jean-Mary said.

“We have returned home to Moree for a couple of weeks. Emma will continue her therapy here and is scheduled to have her next operation in Newcastle at the end of October.

“Emma is enjoying catching up with friends and family who have been a great support since the accident. She is also revelling in playing with her dogs, Missy and Teddy, and getting her horse fix by spending time with Norton, and she is looking forward to hopefully catching up with everyone this weekend at the campdraft.”


Emma Botfield with her big brother James and dogs Teddy and Missy (Image Supplied).

The last 12 weeks has been a living hell for the Botfield family, and it is the waiting that has been hardest for her family . . . the waiting, hoping and praying that 22-year-old Emma will recover.

Thursday, July 20 was a typical weekday morning for Steve and Jean-Mary.

Steve, a construction superintendent with Moree Plains Shire Council, was busy organising staff and Jean-Mary, a customer service officer at NSW Local Land Services, was just about to head out and start another day.

Emma was preparing for her regular early morning ride and saddling up her beloved horse Norton.

Emma saddled Norton as she normally would. She strapped on her helmet and double-checked that all riding gear was securely fastened.

It was a routine she knew well, and one that she did meticulously.

For Emma, riding Norton on a brisk Moree winter’s morning before starting work at Moree Veterinary Hospital was the perfect start to the day.

“This was her regular, early morning ride that she enjoyed most days before heading off to work,” Jean-Mary said.

However, the unexpected happened.

Emma fell from Norton; a shocking fall that resulted in traumatic brain injury.

“Steve was at work and got a call from a work colleague telling him that Emma was hurt,” Jean-Mary said.

There were a lot of people at the accident scene when Steve arrived.

“These were big and strong men who are normally out getting their hands dirty working hard, and they all did an amazing job keeping Emma alive. They provided the initial first-aid and support she needed until paramedics arrived,” Jean-Mary said.

Many hands saved Emma’s life that terrible morning.

The appropriate steps taken by the first people to arrive at the scene and the Ambulance Service which arrived within minutes set in motion a life-saving chain that included the brilliant, skilful professionals at Moree Hospital as well as the Westpac Rescue Helicopter team who transported Emma to Newcastle.

There were also the chartered flight operators who flew Steve and Jean-Mary to Newcastle. They arrived within five minutes of their daughter.

“There was an exceptional medical team at John Hunter Hospital, as well as the staff at Rankin Park Rehabilitation Centre who provided wonderful and specialised care,” Jean-Mary said.

“All of these factors combined to give Emma the best possible chance of recovery. We cannot thank all of these people enough.”

Emma was air-lifted to John Hunter Hospital at Newcastle and underwent emergency surgery and had a piece of her skull removed to relieve swelling on her brain.

“Steve and I sat on the charter plane to Newcastle not knowing if Emma had survived the flight,” Jean-Mary said.

“After the surgery we were told ‘if she makes it’ there would be a long road ahead.”

The three-day campdraft – starting on Friday – is chockful of horse events, entertainment and fundraising, and everyone is encouraged to head to Warialda to support Emma.

The ‘draft, with a raft of sponsors jumping on board, starts at 8am on Friday, when the competitors draw will be done.

Saturday features a charity auction as well as a prize for the best dressed helmet or hat.

A roast lamb and chicken dinner as well as a barbecue will be followed by live entertainment by Just Me.

Ken Barnett (0427 545248), Stacey Duff (0488 923958) or Amber Barnett (0427 869617) can be contacted for further information.

Details are also available at the campdraft’s Facebook page:

Words: Bill Poulos

Image: Supplied