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April-May 2021 | Features

Maddie’s going for Gold

Maddie’s going for Gold

Maddie Jervis has had to overcome bone cancer and the amputation of part of her leg. But the teenage horse rider carries hopes of one day competing at the Paralympics.

The golden sands of the Pembrokeshire coastline provide a glorious setting for a horse ride.

These fantastic pictures on a fresh, but sun-kissed day in West Wales, were captured by Rotarian Mary Adams, who has taken the teenage rider, Maddie Jervis, to her heart.

Maddie on horse

These fantastic pictures on a fresh, but sun-kissed day in West Wales, were captured by Rotarian Mary Adams.

Little more than 18 months ago Maddie, then 14, was preparing to start her GCSE studies and dreaming of one day joining the Royal Navy. But then, those dreams came crashing down.

In September 2019, Maddie was diagnosed with the bone cancer osteosarcoma. It is a most debilitating disease.

A keen horse rider, she had come home that summer from the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells, Powys, crying in pain and unable to walk.

The following week, when her dad Alun lifted Maddie on and off her pony because of the pain in his daughter’s leg, he knew it was more than just growing pains.

The diagnosis at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest was crushing.

“Our world just turned upside-down,” said dad Alun Jervis, a firearms officer for Dyfed-Powys Police.

maddie in hospital

In September 2019, Maddie was diagnosed with the bone cancer osteosarcoma. It is a most debilitating disease.

“It was like being hit by a train, and the news just kept getting worse and worse.”

The road has been extremely hard for Maddie and her family. Both Alun and wife Rachael were in the Metropolitan Police before moving to Pembrokeshire.

After an initial operation in London to replace part of her femur and knee, it was discovered that the cancer had spread, and the only option was an amputation.

That operation was carried out last May and yet, eight weeks later Maddie was back on board her Welsh Cob horse, Eyros.

Maddie is now back in school at Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland and getting about really well on crutches. She is in the process of having a prosthetic limb fitted.

“We have been slightly thwarted by the fact that Wales don’t fund microprocessor knees, only mechanical ones,” said mum Rachael. “So we are looking into different funding options.”

It means Maddie has to be careful using the crutches and not overdo it on her stronger, right leg. Hopefully, the prosthesis will help with this.

Photographer Mary Adams of Powerpix Photography went to Amroth to take some photos of Maddie and Eyros on the beach.

Maddie, now 15, has her sights on one day competing on her horse at the Paralympics.

Mary is an Assistant Governor for Rotary in West Wales and said she was honoured to capture the family at this special time.

Narberth & Whitland Rotary has helped Maddie achieve her independence by helping her to buy an agricultural gator, which takes the courageous teenager, together with the horse feed, down to the field to see Eyros.

Emma Richards, a family friend, raised a lot of the money by walking from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

In a letter to the Rotary club, Maddie wrote: “Thank you so much for giving me the money donation to my gator fund.

“After my amputation, I really didn’t know how I was going to get on with doing things, whether I would be able to get to the field, the beach, and all the things I used to do.

“Thanks to you, and the overwhelming generosity of so many, I have been able to do pretty much everything I used to do – I just have to find new ways of doing them.

“Maddie is a wonderful role model for her peers. She is certainly determined and proves that you can do something if you put your mind to it.”

“This gator has made mobility much easier. I still need help from my mum and dad for certain things, but this money has given me back my mobility and, more importantly, my independence.”

Maddie, now 15, has her sights on one day competing on her horse at the Paralympics. Before Covid, Maddie took part in three dressage competitions against able-bodied riders and won all of them.

“Hopefully, when the restrictions are lifted, I can carry on from where I left off,” she added.

“I was very angry at first about everything, especially when my leg was amputated. But I am now very positive and looking forward to life.”

Narberth & Whitland Rotarian, Mary Adams, describes Maddie as “an inspiration”.

Mary said: “Maddie is a wonderful role model for her peers. She is certainly determined and proves that you can do something if you put your mind to it.

“Seeing her on the horse in Amroth made me think she can achieve her dream of becoming a Paralympian.

“I believe that Maddie has the ability to go for gold as what she has done in a couple of months from losing her leg to getting back on her horse is amazing.”

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