A 20-year-old who was knocked off her horse says the animal saved her life.

Francesca Kennedy was out riding her horse Bart with her friend, Hannah Farrell, last week when they were involved in a collision with a Land Rover near Clifton.

Bart had to be put down by a vet after the incident and Francesca was airlifted by the Great North Air Ambulance to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

She suffered two torn ligaments and a torn tendon in her leg and is on crutches as a result of the collision.

Francesca from Clifton has since started a fundraiser to thank the GNAA for their help and in just a matter of hours succeeded her target of £1,000.

She explained: “I unfortunately had put our horse down at the scene. I had to use the air ambulance in result of my injuries. They were quite severe at the time. They thought I’d done something to my back and my pelvis.

“They were fantastic, they were amazing. They were professional. They were amazing.

“They even gave me updates on my horse which they had nothing to do with. From this tragic experience I’ve gone through so raising money for them is an honour for they how they reacted and how they were at the time.”

The target of the fundraiser was initially set at about £1,000 but this quickly exceed more than £3,500.

Francesca added: “It’s been incredible. Everyone has been has been amazing. Fundraising has been amazing in three days.

“I didn’t think it was going to blow up as much as it did. The horse community is such a tight knot.

“People had heard that a horse and rider had been hurt we had all come together. Raising money for them is an honour.”

The fundraising won’t stop here. Francesca has much more planned for 2021 to raise money, including a fundraising ball.

She added: “I am incredibly lucky. My horse saved my life.

“I am doing really well, I am recovering well.”

Francesca is also raising awareness for safety on the roads for horse riders.