Air Ambulance charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) is inviting riders to join its KSS Ride, a sponsored off-road hack through the Bilsington Priory Estate near Ashford, Kent, on Sunday 20 August, to raise funds to help save lives.

Riders will follow an eight-mile route over a variety of terrain, with views of the picturesque countryside. Participants can select specific start times and there are allocated canter strips along the way.

Virginia Rider, who has twice been cared for by KSS, is among those taking part. A fall from her horse onto a metal gate in 2003 left her with a broken back and in urgent need of medical attention.

The location was inaccessible by road, so KSS flew its specialist doctor and paramedic team to her. Once the team had stabilised her condition, they flew Virginia to Maidstone Hospital for ongoing care in just 10 minutes.

Ten years later, in 2013, Virginia was fell from her horse following an incident involving cyclists. She suffered fractured vertebrae in her back and injured her lung. KSS delivered critical care to Virginia, at the scene of the accident, before transferring her to King’s College Hospital in London, a major trauma centre.

“I took part in the KSS Ride last year and am really looking forward to taking part again this year,” said Virginia. “It is an excellent event, at a lovely, scenic venue. It’s perfect for novice riders and horses, is well marshalled, very safe and is a fantastic way for the horse-riding community to fundraise for KSS.

“As a rider, I feel it is very important to help raise vital funds to ensure we keep our local Air Ambulance flying, as you never know when you might need their life-saving care.”

Katie Rose, a member of the Events Team at KSS, was inspired to create the event two years ago following a kick to the face from her horse:

“Although I didn’t need the Air Ambulance, I realised that it would have been there if my injuries had been more serious,” she said. “I always wear a helmet, but accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Last year we attended 41 horse riding incidents across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“KSS Ride is a fantastic opportunity for horse riders to enjoy a beautiful ride while also supporting their local Air Ambulance, KSS, so it can be there for anyone if the worst happens. I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had from so many riders. Between them they have raised over £40K for the charity.

“We’ve had lots of compliments from the many happy riders enjoying a day out with their horse and knowing that by saddling up, they really are helping to save lives.”

It costs KSS £45,000 a day to operate its life-saving service 24/7, and 87% of the life-saving charity’s total income is raised through the generosity of its supporters across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing KSS Ride back this year,” added Lauren Simmons, Head of Events at KSS. “There is only space for 250 riders to take part at Bilsington Priory Estate, so we are encouraging people to book early to secure their space.

“If you can’t make the date or get to Bilsington Priory, riders can still help by sharing details of KSS Ride with their fellow equestrians.”

For further information about KSS Ride and to sign up, visit

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