September 30th 2012 was the most horrific of days, to think, and still 8 years on, even write about. Our beautiful little boy Jobe was kicked in the head by a horse and nothing in life would or will be the same again. After scraping him off the floor and rushing him to our local hospital, he was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he would spend weeks in intensive care, with us by his side, as the horrific brain injury was cooled to reduce swelling in order to try and save what little chance of life he had. A child in PICU makes seconds and minutes feel like hours and days. Eventually, there was a little ray of hope when Jobe squeezed Helen’s finger for the first time. We were eventually moved to high dependency and then the neurological ward where he stayed for many more weeks. Times were extremely tough on myself and daughters who spent every weekend in the Ronald McDonald House for families with children in hospital (amazing charity and what it does, check them out https://rmhc.org.uk/our-houses/birmingham-house/
Our fundraising efforts eventually raised £300,000 where a Jobe Fellowship had been established to study brain injuries in children and prevent the regular occurrence of blindness as well as many other things associated with child brain injuries.
Of course the effect of this on someones mental wellbeing cannot be measured and during the time of the crisis, I think we all coped very well. However, the fallout from this sort of trauma, and the ongoing treatment and life adjustment, could not be underestimated. Unlike the movies, the recovery from intensive care is not simply someone opening their eyes and life returns to normal. Moreover, recovery at best can take months and years and after those first few years, it’s your own life that then needs adapting to accommodate a child with special needs.
Many things occurred during the subsequent years, but the lack of any kind of support from the company I had worked for, for well over a decade, really took its toll and my love affair with ‘traditional’ agricultural started to dwindle and I began to wonder if there was anything else I should perhaps be doing?
In 2015 Helen encouraged me to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship and I was fortunate enough to be awarded one for 2016. This is something that would change my life forever, although after landing in the USA and sitting in my hire car in the car park of Minot airport, I realised I had 2 choices – either mope around the USA wishing I was home trying to ‘protect’ my family, as I had done for almost 3 years, or spend the next 6 weeks travelling the USA and reinvigorating my love for agriculture! Thankfully I chose the latter and met people that would change my perspective on farming forever.
I spent the 18 months in which I was able to travel across North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China and Australia and spent 4 weeks with my mother travelling from our local train station in Ledbury by train all the way to Beijing in China, via the trans-Siberian train, an incredible experience! And to watch my mother ice fishing on Lake Baikal in the midst of a Siberian winter (February -45 degrees C and wind chill don to -65) is a memory I will hold dearly.