10-year-old’s death after fall from horse a ‘tragic accident’, inquest hears

Michelle Holdstock was a 'bright, friendly little girl'
Michelle Holdstock was a 'bright, friendly little girl'

An ‘active and adventurous’ 10-year-old Worthing girl died from a severe brain injury as a result of falling from a horse, an inquest heard.

Michelle Holdstock, of Rochester Close, was described by her mother, Maxine Holdstock, as a ‘very caring girl’ who was ‘liked by everyone who met her’ and was passionate about horses.

An inquest into her death was held at Centenary House, Durrington, on Thursday, March 2.

The inquest heard that Michelle had ridden Zorba, a ‘gentle, lazy’ horse who ‘didn’t spook easily’ nine times before she went for a ride at the Angmering Park Estate with horse owner Tanya Crewe, her mother and her dog, Prince, on Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Lawrence Holdstock, Michelle’s father, said of the area: “We loved it up there so much.

“It was so nice for a 10 year old girl to be out there in the countryside.”

They were approaching a bend in the road ahead when suddenly the horse picked up speed and they disappeared around the corner.

By the time they came back into sight, Michelle was lying on the ground and the horse had continued down the road - where it was stopped by a police officer, who had happened to be walking his dog.

Maxine told the inquest of the fall: “No one will ever know exactly what happened because no one saw it.”

The police officer, PC Simon Hunt, administered first aid to Michelle - who was ‘totally unresponsive’ and had laboured breathing - before calling an air ambulance, which took her to St George’s hospital in London.

She was taken to A&E before being transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit, where she remained until her death on Monday, October 10.

Assistant coroner Christopher Wilkinson returned the conclusion that Michelle died as a result of a fall from a horse.

“This was an unintentional, unexpected event. A pure and simple accident, which was tragic,” he said.

“As a father myself of a ten-year-old daughter...I have every empathy for you.”

After the inquest, Mr and Mrs Holdstock told the Herald: “Michelle was a bright friendly little girl who always had time for anyone. Since the day she was born she was so very special to us and our small family and friends.

“This is a tragic loss to us and has left a big hole in our lives.”

They also thanked Durrington Middle School, which Michelle attended for just over two years and ‘loved very much’, for raising money for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust in Michelle’s honour and putting a permanent memorial for her outside her classroom.

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