From the Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, 20 July 2015. Story by Brian Daniel.
A young horse rider who has fought a lengthy battle with illness has completed a remarkable turnaround – by defeating royalty.
Emi Rowell, 20, from Northumberland, has fought myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) for more than half her life, meaning she could only go to school part time and had to give up work and college.
Such was the seriousness of her condition, there were days when the only thing Emi got out of bed for was to look after her horse, with competing on her animal keeping her going.
But now, Emi has capped a massive improvement in her condition by defeating world-famous rider and royal Zara Phillips at an international event.
“The competing was the only thing that kept me going,” she said.
Emi, from Hedley on the Hill, has ridden since she was a toddler and taken part in events for a number of years.
She began suffering from ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, when she was just eight, with her unable to attend school full time because of it.
Despite the condition, she continued to ride and compete.
In recent years, Emi left home to study and work at Penrith but her condition deteriorated so much last year she was forced to give up both, moving back to the family farm in March.
She recalls how having a horse had been the only thing that could get her out of bed some mornings.
Emi said: “There was times I could not even put my own socks on. I knew those sort of days I had a horse.
“My sister would come out and make sure he was looked after. She would always leave me one job to do, not a big job, I knew how important that was therefore I knew I had to get up and do that.
“That was the only thing that kept me going. I had to get up in the morning, I had a responsibility.”