Family and friends of British event rider Danni Meehan, who died in a riding accident, are cycling 80km in her memory to raise money for the Air Ambulance Service.
Danni died following a rotational fall in training in July 2021 aged 32. The air ambulance attended, but Danni could not be saved.
The charity which operates the air ambulance services in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, was close to Danni’s heart, as she saw her mum, Debbie, rescued by one of its helicopter crews after a riding accident.
Her family would like to raise money and awareness so other lives may be saved.
Around 60 cyclists, including Danni’s parents, her brother Dominic and partner, Chris, will gather on 10 April, Danni’s 33rd birthday, to take place in the Cycle Derby Sportive in Markeaton Park. The venue is where Danni first sat on a horse when she was a little girl.
“Danni was so driven, loyal, kind and loving. She lived in her own little bubble and wasn’t concerned about world affairs or politics, she just focused on what was really special to her – her family, friends and horses,” said Debbie.
“Before the tragic event last year, Danni was always determined to participate in an event like this, but eventing was ultimately her priority.
“When I saw that the Cycle Derby Sportive was taking place on her birthday, I thought it would be the perfect event for us all to take part in.”
The cyclists will all be wearing jerseys, mirroring Danni’s pink cross-country colours, bearing the message “Ride High Danni”.
Danni was a promising Irish dancer growing up, but horses soon became her real passion. Her childhood dream was to compete at Chatsworth, which she achieved twice with her mare, Killy Puissance (Lilly).
“Over the years we have operated on a shoestring budget, and even though that was the case, it was evident that Danni had enormous talent, and this truly became apparent in the latter years, progressing through the levels, and becoming a one-star (now two-star) [and] intermediate rider.
“She was a truly gifted rider but didn’t get the recognition that she deserved because she was very quiet and unassuming.”
Three months before her accident, Danni had moved into her dream equestrian home, with her partner of 12 years, Chris Kent.
“The solace that I take is she had everything she wanted. As far as Danni was concerned, when she passed, everything was perfect,” said Chris.
The couple were at school together, getting together a few years later after a night out in Derby. The pair were devoted to one another, but Chris said he always knew where he stood in Danni’s affections.
“She loved Lilly first, and me second!” he said. “To be honest, I didn’t mind that, as long as I was in the top three!”
Danni’s family has been getting out into the countryside on their bikes to help with their grief.
“Football has always been my main passion; I’ve played all my life. I have never really seen the attraction of cycling. However, it has provided me with some direction this last few months, and as the weeks have gone on, I’ve started finding it quite cathartic,” said Chris.
“Cycling takes my mind off things – it has had a positive impact on my mental health these last few months – if I am feeling down or somewhat low, it’s a great outlet to shift my mindset.
“Danni would have been doing this event if she was still with us. I regularly cycle up to her grave and sit with her. I know she’d be laughing at me, especially donning full lycra. But at the same time, I know she would be so proud of us all.”
Chris also thanked his employer, Lubrizol, for its emotional support and contribution towards the ride.
Tracey Jones, community fundraising executive for the air ambulance in Derbyshire, thanked the family for their support in this difficult time.
“Without the amazing commitment of people like them, we would not be able to provide the service that we do,” she said.
“They are showing fantastic dedication and we at the charity wish them the best of luck with their fundraising and once again a massive thank you for their support. They are amazing.”
For more information and to donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sean-meehan1
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