Gorleston stable hand’s compensation fight

A stable hand who was paralysed from the chest down after being kicked by a horse has launched a legal battle for compensation of more than �300,000.

John Ward, 60, of Western Road, Gorleston, suffered facial injuries and damage to his spinal cord when he was kicked by a racehorse called Nelly, according to a High Court writ.

The father of three, a widower, has been reliant on a carer coming to his home twice a day since leaving hospital after the freak accident in April last year, but remains optimistic and philosophical.

Speaking yesterday at the start of his compensation battle, he said: 'When I was undergoing rehabilitation at a hospital in Sheffield I saw kids as young as 14 paralysed from the neck down and it made me feel lucky I have had 60 good years of life.

'I have been kicked several times before and had some horrendous falls and emerged unscathed; this time I was unlucky.'

Following the accident at Kimberley Home Farm, in Wymondham, Fakenham racecourse paid tribute to Mr Ward with a lifetime in racing award; a hurdles race was also named after him with his daughter Hayley Burrows presenting the trophy to winning jockey Tony McCoy.

Mr Ward, who had worked at several yards in the region, said: 'The award was the idea of Racing Welfare because people who work behind the scenes don't get the same recognition as a jockey if they are injured.' He is demanding damages from point to point trainer Nigel Bloom, and stables owners Michael and Jennifer Bloom.

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The accident happened as he was taking the grey mare back to her stable, the writ says.

She had been confined to her stable with a leg injury, and he put her on the horse walker as she was agitated and frustrated, the court will hear.

After an hour, he led her to a grass area to allow her a pick of grass, but she did not settle and walked over to a nearby pony, becoming boisterous.

However, as he tried to take her back to her stable, she kicked him in the face, fracturing his cheek and injuring his spinal cord, the writ states.

Mr Ward cannot remember being kicked, and his last memory of the accident is of Nelly pulling away from him and becoming boisterous.

He said: 'I came too and the air ambulance was there. I was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and had a couple of operations before going to Sheffield for rehabilitation.'

Mr Ward, who is seeking provisional damages, and an order allowing him to return to court for more damages if his condition deteriorates, said he harbours no ill feelings to the horse.

'If I made progress I would be happy to get back on a horse,' he said.

He is currently keeping up his interest in horses by following racing on the television.

The EDP contacted the Blooms yesterday, but they declined to comment.

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