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A true test of resilience for horse loving Monto teen

Exuding youthful positivity and resilience, Bella Southern is a remarkable teenager from Monto who despite an unfortunate horse accident in 2022, is back doing what she loves.

In May 2022, Bella who lives on a property 40 minutes from Monto, was kicked in the face by a horse, causing significant facial injuries, including the loss of her right eye. 

Bella recalls the day of the accident saying, “When my sister saw my face she screamed and ran to get Mum who drove as quickly as I’ve ever seen anyone drive, to Monto Hospital.”

After local hospital staff assessed the severity of the injury, Bella was promptly flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital where she stayed for several weeks enduring several maxillofacial surgeries to correct facial fractures and an eye injury.

The possibility of losing her right eye was a real concern and ongoing medical care was required to try to salvage it but the 7-hour drive to Brisbane was going to make life very tough for the Southern family.

This is where a team of volunteer pilots and drivers from Angel Flight stepped in to help the make the logistics of ongoing treatment possible for Bella and her parents, who have completed nine flights from Monto to Brisbane for medical appointments since the accident. 

Angel Flight pilot, Steve Darveniza who recently flew Bella from Monto to Archerfield, remarked on her positive attitude, saying; “Bella and her family are indomitable.”

“Bella is as bright as a button with a joyful sense of humour, whilst possessing a quiet yet strong underlying sense of purpose.”

“I’m pleased to have had the pleasure of meeting Bella and her family.”

Reciprocal sentiments are echoed from Bella; “The drivers and pilots are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, alongside the amazing nurses and doctors at all the hospitals I’ve visited.”

Bella says during her prolonged stay in Queensland Children’s Hospital when she was coming to grips with the prospect of losing her eye, her Mum said, “It happened for a reason” and this notion is one the 14-year-old horse lover believes to be true.

Three months after the accident, Bella was back doing what she loves, competing in campdrafting challenges. Despite her facial fractures, multiple surgeries, and lack of vision in her right eye, her resilience, passion, and talent secured her a spot in the finals in the Cloncurry competition.

Proudly wearing a ‘Rocky Rush’ finalist cap during the interview, Bella’s love for the sport has clearly not waivered.

Angel Flight is an Australian charity providing free flight for rural families in need and receives no government funding.

It relies on donations from corporate sponsors and organisations like CWA and more recently Dunga Derby (a Fraser Coast based 4-day car rally) who this month donated $10,000 to the Southern family.

Refusing to personally accept the donation, the family have paid it forward to Angel Flight to help the charity assist other rural Australians in need.