Horse riding community rallies around rider battling cancer

Heidi Crawford with her horse Donald, she is battling cancer and organising a charity event to raise funds for treatment and a wig room at The Christie.
Heidi Crawford with her horse Donald, she is battling cancer and organising a charity event to raise funds for treatment and a wig room at The Christie.

The equestrian community is rallying round to help the daughter of a riding club owner in her battle against ovarian cancer.

Horse enthusiasts will gather at Abram Hall Riding Centre next month for two days of events and entertainment in aid of Heidi Crawford, whose mum Jennifer owns the Warrington Road site.

Heidi was diagnosed with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer in autumn 2016 after having health difficulties for much of the year.

She has been keeping her outlook positive to fight the disease since being told she had it and says she is overwhelmed by the support for the fund-raising event on July 13 and 14.

Heidi said: “I am amazed by the response we have had for this event. I am humbled by some of the amazing prizes donated and there is even talk of local celebrities making an appearance.

“I hope it will not only help raise awareness of this awful disease but will enable me to explore further treatments and fund some of my bucket list.

“There are two ways to look at a diagnosis like this. You can either accept what is and go along with it or you can decide to be your own advocate and walk your own path. That is what I have decided to do.

“I have looked upon my cancer diagnosis as the biggest challenge of my life. It is a part of me and I have to live with it.

“I have down days like everyone but I also have an awesome network of family and friends, a lot of them from the equestrian community, that have been there for me every step of the way.”

The event is being put on by friends Sharon Goulding and Kate Waddington and will start on the Saturday with dressage and working hunter events before there is a BBQ, disco and entertainment in the evening.

The fund-raising continues on Sunday with a full day of show jumping, including a mini-Derby event and the challenge of the big wall known in equestrian circles as the puissance.

Heidi described how she first began feeling ill in March 2016 and needed to visit the toilet in the night a lot while also having pains in her back and groin.

It was initially thought she had a UTI but returned to the doctors several times as antibiotics were not having an effect and it was worsening.

She insisted on further investigation after feeling a lump in her abdomen and was told in September 2016 she needed to have a hysterectomy following blood tests, ultrasound and an MRI scan.

She had surgery at The Christie and three weeks later came the bombshell that she had ovarian cancer and it had spread.

She hopes that sharing her story will raise awareness of the disease’s symptoms.

Heidi said: “The day I received myt MRI results I thought I probably had a cyst or polyps. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was tell my mum.

“I had never been ill or had surgery and I admit I was terrified.

“If I can stop one person going through what my family has been through then that is good enough for me.”