Thomas Graham, his wife Alanna at See Park. Thomas was crushed by his horse 10 years ago and will watch the incident for the first time on the anniversary.
Thomas Graham, his wife Alanna at See Park. Thomas was crushed by his horse 10 years ago and will watch the incident for the first time on the anniversary.

Crushed by a horse, a decade on he's set to watch footage

TEN years ago on July 24, Thomas Graham was 15 when his life changed in an instant.

Competing at the Ulmarra Campdraft, his horse crushed him when the beast in front of him fell.

He nearly died multiple times on the way to the hospital and was in a coma for weeks with doctors preparing the family for the worst.

>>> LOOKING BACK: The Daily Examiner's story from the accident

Today, he doesn't remember any of it.

This week, on the anniversary of the life-changing event, he will watch footage of the moment for the first time.

"It'll be emotional, but it'll be good," Thomas said. "I'm pretty keen to see it, just because I've only been told about it."

The Daily Examiner's front page covering Thomas Graham's fall at the Ulmarra Campdraft.
The Daily Examiner's front page covering Thomas Graham's fall at the Ulmarra Campdraft.

By his side to watch will be the family who supported his hard-fought recovery, and one of the things he remembers from around the time of the accident - his now-wife Alanna.

"We were at school together, and were kissing behind the classroom in secret," Alanna giggled.

"But we weren't together until after the accident."

Once Thomas woke from the coma, and was able to use his fingers, he began messaging Alanna, and the relationship grew from there.

The couple married three years ago, and have a four-year-old daughter, Ella, with another child on the way.

Thomas Graham, his wife Alanna and four-year-old Ella together at See Park. Thomas was crushed by his horse 10 years ago and will watch the incident for the first time on the anniversary.
Thomas Graham, his wife Alanna and four-year-old Ella together at See Park. Thomas was crushed by his horse 10 years ago and will watch the incident for the first time on the anniversary.

Thomas's road to recovery was long, with family and friends keeping a constant vigil at his bedside at Gold Coast Hospital, talking to him, even by phone, while he was unconscious.

On waking, he was paralysed down his left side, and when it subsided, he developed a tremor in his right hand which remains.

>>> ROAD TO RECOVERY: Thomas begins his rehabiliation

While his memory of the time is still faded, the couple said the support he got from family and the community was instrumental in his recovery.

"He had to relearn everything," Alanna said. "How to walk, how to move, everything - and it was hard.

Patient Thomas Graham receives rehabilitation from Kevin Hansell, physiotherapist after his camp draft injury. Photo: Terry Deefholts / The Daily Examiner.
Patient Thomas Graham receives rehabilitation from Kevin Hansell, physiotherapist after his camp draft injury. Photo: Terry Deefholts / The Daily Examiner.

"His parents had a huge part in it. His dad George would be like 'let's get up and kick the soccer ball'.

"He was always saying just give it a go, today's another day."

The community also raised more than $26,000 at a trivia night to help with costs for when Thomas came back home, but Alanna said even the little things made a difference.

"Our neighbours would come across and cook food for us," Alanna said. "They'd always bring these scones that were so good."

Eighteen months after his fall, defying expectations, Thomas was not only recovering but rode his horse again - the same one which fell on him.

"Surprisingly it didn't really worry me - I was pretty keen to get back on," he said. "I've been riding since I was quite young."

Although contact sports were now blacklisted, Thomas took up cricket, which he still plays, and he continues to stay active chasing after their energetic four-year-old.

For two years, he was part of the massive team working on the new Grafton bridge crossing with firm Ledonne Constructions.

"His work has been amazing. We've struck gold with them," Alanna said. "They look after him as one of their sons, and all the boys love having him around.

Apart from the tremor, Thomas has few other lingering effects from what was termed as a severe brain injury, though Alanna is quick to point out one flaw.

"He's very forgetful," she laughed. "Not just normal husband forgetful either."

Thomas Graham, a 14 year old local boy, who sustained a serious head injury as a result of a riding accident whilst competing in an event at the Ulmarra Campdraft on 24 July 2010
Thomas Graham, a 14 year old local boy, who sustained a serious head injury as a result of a riding accident whilst competing in an event at the Ulmarra Campdraft on 24 July 2010

Alana has watched the video of his accident recently, after they had the old VHS footage transferred to DVD, and said she gets goosebumps just talking about the incident.

Thomas is his usual calm self about what he expects.

"It'll be emotional, but it'll be good. I'm pretty keen to see it," Thomas said.

"Mostly because I don't remember any of it - I've only been told about it."

Alanna warns it all happens pretty quickly.

"I think he'll be just replay, replay, replay on it," she said.

"You see it … and we're very lucky to have him."



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