We’ve always known that our fundraisers are amazing and we are constantly impressed by the versatility and determination they demonstrate. While many do weird, wacky and crazy things, others definitely go the extra mile – and none more so than sisters Elizabeth Jefferies and Naomi Madell.

Liz and Naomi are endurance horse-riders, competing around the UK in long distance challenges on their two horses, Twosox and Beauty. As well as keeping themselves fit, the horses are also highly trained in order to be fit and ready for the competitive rides.

It was on one of their recent training rides that Liz, who competes in the Para Endurance category as she has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a debilitating genetic condition, very nearly needed the services of Devon Air Ambulance herself. She takes up the story:

“We were on a training ride from Buckfastleigh to Princetown following the Abbots Way. Even though we were following the OS map for the correct route and on a well-used wide pathway, my horse fell into a bog up to his belly. Fortunately, he managed to keep me aboard and pull us both out. Then further on we had to cross a small stream but, because of the bog incident, my horse was worried so I dismounted to lead him over.

“Because he trusts me so much, he likes to follow my footsteps exactly. But I stumbled as I was moving out of his way, just as Twosox was crossing, so he also stumbled and we both fell. Unfortunately, he fell on top of me, so I was crushed underneath his 470kg of bodyweight. Bless him, he pulled himself off without stepping on me. I was worried that I had broken my back but, as Twosox walked off and started grazing, I realised I could move so carefully sat up. The pain was excruciating.

“Naomi had at the time got broken ribs from a fall a couple of weeks prior so I knew she couldn’t lead my horse whilst riding hers. But we had to get to Princetown where her partner was meeting us. I wasn’t sure if I was able to walk, let alone ride, but I just couldn’t face the stress of worrying about my sister and my horse if I called the Air Ambulance. I stood up and could hardly weight bear on my left leg.

“I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and fibromyalgia so I am in constant pain and because of this I do have the ability to cope with high levels of pain, so I knew that if I could just get on Twosox again I could get to Princetown and then if needed to get an ambulance from there.

“Twosox is used to me struggling to get on sometimes and stood perfectly whilst I screamed getting back on. I had to sit so still, the pain in my pelvis was terrible. We manged to get to Princetown slowly, Twosox was also now lame, so we knew once we got to Princetown Naomi’s partner would need to go and retrieve the horsebox to take the horses home.

“I decided I could manage to lie in the car and then at least I would know my sister and the horses were safe, then I would go to A&E; the ambulance service has so much to deal with so unless I cannot move I won’t call them if I have a way to get there myself.

Luckily, and I think thanks to my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome making all my joints squash and move abnormally, I had not broken anything, but I had a lot of bruising and soft tissue damage. I felt like a cartoon character that had been flattened and then re-inflated!

Despite the discomfort and still sporting colourful bruises, Liz was back in training just one week later. Disappointingly, the event they were training for was cancelled due to Covid-19 but, such is Liz and Naomi’s determination, they decided to still ride the same distance and raise money for Devon Air Ambulance at the same time.

Their ride is now scheduled for Saturday 3 October 2020 and, on behalf of everyone at Devon Air Ambulance, we extend a huge thanks to Liz and Naomi. Their willingness and enthusiasm to support their local air ambulance service is invaluable and we wish them every success for their challenge.

If you’d like to show your support to Naomi and Liz, please donate to their Just Giving page.