A HORSE rider suffered an 18 month nightmare after she suffered a potentially catastrophic brain aneurysm.

Caroline Shepherd, 37, was riding on the North York Moors when she suddenly collapsed and fell off her horse.

“One minute I was speaking to my dad and then the next thing I can remember was waking up in hospital eight days later,” said Caroline.

Finding she had stopped breathing and was starting to turn blue, her fellow riders had started CPR .

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) then took over and when she got to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough doctors found Caroline had suffered a subarachnoid aneurysm haemorrhage – a bleed on the brain.

Medics operated and she was put into an induced coma for a week.

That was in January last year and now Caroline, from Helmsley, is continuing the battle for recovery – starting by helping the people who saved her, volunteering for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Caroline still suffers from fatigue and pain, but assists the charity by giving talks about her experience.

She also raised nearly £7,000 for the service through a charity evening.

With the backing of her physiotherapist, Caroline has also got back on a horse which she says is really good therapy.

She added: “It definitely helps being back on a horse, it’s wonderful. And I’m hoping that volunteering will get my body working again to help me get back to full time working.

“The Yorkshire Air Ambulance played a massive role in helping me to make such an amazing recovery and it was due to this that I wanted to give something back.”

Caroline uses her real life experience to aid her presentations for the YAA.

“It can be daunting standing up in front of the crowd telling my tale, but people are happy that you’re here to tell them your story,” she said.

Last night she appeared in an episode of Helicopter ER, made by York based Air Television, reliving the event which changed her life.

She says the whole experience has changed her approach, adding “You do realise life is too short and now if I want to do something I do it and enjoy more time with family and friends. I am very lucky to have been given a second chance of life.”

Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves five million people across Yorkshire and carries out over 1,500 missions every year, cutting the transport time to hospitals and giving immediate life saving treatment. The charity operates two, state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters and needs to raise £12,000 every day to do its work.