Graphic: Fundraiser for RFDS Tas

King Island rider clocks up kilometres

Date published

28 Apr 2021

As the sun rose over Naracoopa on King Island’s eastern shore on April 3, Kelly Lancaster swung up into the saddle and urged her arab/Connemara cross mare Arabella forward into a steady walk. Flanked by her daughter Sarah, 13, nieces Holly, 9, and Dakota Davis, 7, and Amelia Poulson, 11, also on horseback, the riders followed the sun to the west coast at Currie, 26kms down the road.

Sunrise at Naracoopa

Only the iconic winged logo of the Royal Flying Doctor Service on Kelly’s polo top hinted about the mission – to ride from one side to the other, then from top to bottom on the island, to raise money for RFDS Tasmania.

It’s something she said she wanted to do, not just as a riding experience, but to contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of fellow islanders.

A single notice on social media snowballed into support that led to sponsorship per kilometre and saw landowners greet her at the end of laneways with donations as she rode past. Many locals chose to drop their change into collection tins at the IGA, King Island Bakehouse, King Island Pharmacy and King Island Newsagency.

Riders on the road

“It was so nice to have my husband Philip, family and friends see us off in Naracoopa on what was a perfect autumn morning with a stunning sunrise,” Kelly said.

“And then to have that encouragement along the way and see how much support there is for the RFDS made it feel so worthwhile.

“The three kids managed to ride the entire way with me – it took about five-and-a-half hours – and instead of going down to the wharf we stopped outside the hotel where we were shouted a soft drink and presented with another donation.

“I think at one stage there were more horses than cars in the carpark!”

The dairy farmer is now preparing for the much longer ride of 82km from Cape Wickham to Stokes Point on May 1 and 2.

Locals have organised a mini market ($10 per table) and morning tea at the old Reekara School on Saturday and Kelly will be calling in on the way past. Dinner will be a fundraiser barbecue at the former UHT factory at Currie from 6pm with all locals welcome.

The horses will be overnighting at the racecourse before an early 4.30am start the next morning.

Kelly and Arabella

“I’m more nervous about this one – and I’ve been lunging Arabella every second day to build up her fitness,” Kelly said.

“After the first ride we went straight into a Pony Club dressage and showjumping competition and managed to win a ribbon – I’m not sure we’ll have that much energy left next time.”

So far Kelly estimates several thousands of dollars has been raised, including the junior riders each attracting sponsorship of up to $500.

Donations can be made directly to RFDS by calling Lana Best on 0455 110 050 (direct transfer details also available), by donating online at www.flyingdoctor.org.au/tas or through Kelly and participating businesses on King Island.

RFDS Tasmania has been a part of the lives of King Islanders for 60 years this year.

And while it’s best known for its historic aeromedical role the RFDS is also focused on tackling a chronic health issue on the island – oral health.

For the past two years a mobile RFDS dental team, which operates out of the King Island Hospital and Health Centre in partnership with Oral Health Services Tasmania (OHST) has been offering free dental treatments to all King Island adults.

This has more than tripled the number of consultations available on the island in the past, however there is still a huge amount of unmet need and RFDS Tasmania aims to further increase the number of consultations by fundraising for a second dental team.

The addition of a prosthetic (denture) service, which started a month ago and reduces the need to travel off island for new teeth, required $10,000 in equipment to set up.

To donate to Kelly's ride click the button below or call RFDS Fundraising Officer Lana Best on 0455 110 050.