Year 12 graduate Emily Fitzgibbins had the chance to see her dreams realised when her family and friends surprised her with a special guest at her formal.

A lifelong horse lover, Emily was able to arrive in style atop Nullah to the Yass High School formal at Shaw’s Winery.

Emily’s mum, Jacquie Fitzgibbins, said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to surprise her daughter with a horse ride to the school’s end-of-year celebrations.

Just over a week out from formal, Jacquie asked Leisa Doggett if she could borrow her horse Nullah. Leisa is an SLSO (School Learning Support Officer) who worked with Emily at Yass High School’s Learning Hub for children with intellectual disabilities.

“It was quite amazing,” Jacquie said. “I asked Leisa whether she thought Nullah could do it or not and I said, ‘Look, I haven’t said anything to Emily let’s keep it as a surprise’, and she thought that was a fantastic idea.”


When Emily first saw her surprise, she was extremely excited.

“She had a big smile and a big exclamation – ‘Is that Nullah and Leisa?’”

Alicia Mostert, the mother of Emily’s best friend Felicity, said Leisa spent the day getting Nullah ready. But Emily still thought she was just arriving in her mum’s car.

“I just started bawling my eyes out,” Alicia said. “She just stole the show.”


Nullah was also dolled up with braids all through its mane and tail with flowers and a butterfly bow to match Emily’s dress.

“It was just magnificent how Leisa got behind it and made Emily’s dream come true.”

“When Emily and Nullah turned the corner to walk in front of the cellar door she had the biggest smile and I just broke down in tears,” Alicia said.

“The whole place just stood still for 10 minutes, so she could have her moment.”

By Brianna O’Rourke