TRIBUTES have been paid to former joint master of the Cattistock Hunt Fiona Vigar after she died from injuries suffered in a riding accident.

Friends and family have spoken of her love for life, passion for country sports and friendship and hospitality towards others.

Mrs Vigar’s husband Chris and sister Penelope Cobbold also thanked medical staff, the air ambulance and wellwishers for all of their help and support.

They said in a statement: “Fiona has left a huge void in many people's life, but she would not want anybody to dwell on this tragedy. “Life was always for living in her case, and that is what she would want those that remember her to carry on doing.”

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from friends and the local community in general and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those people.”

Mrs Vigar, who was 43, of Cerne Abbas, was with the Cattistock Hunt on Thursday January 24 when the accident happened while she was riding on the road in Loders. She fell from her horse and sustained a very serious head injury.

She was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital and had immediate brain surgery. After surgery, Mrs Vigar was moved into the intensive care unit at Frenchay but she did not regain consciousness and died peacefully on the early evening of Sunday February 10.

Her friend Liz Elliott was joint master of the Cattistock Hunt from 2006 to 2010 along with John and Di White-Hamilton.

She said: “Fiona was a really good friend.

“I have known her for about 25 years and she was probably my best pal.

“She will never be forgotten.

“Everywhere I go in the countryside reminds me of a conversation we would have had there.”

Mrs Elliott said that Mrs Vigar was very organised and businesslike but also a good friend who organised a surprise party for her and her husband’s 30th wedding anniversary as well as riding holiday to Spain.

Mrs Elliott said that hunting was a community in which people looked out for eachother and that someone as involved as Mrs Vigar would be very much missed.

Mrs Vigar’s family said that they are extremely grateful to both the air ambulance service and the neurological team at Frenchay.

They said that they cannot thank the hospital enough for the fantastic care shown. They said that the professionalism of all the staff involved in Mrs Vigar’s treatment and care was outstanding and this helped them through a very difficult time. Mrs Vigar’s family say that she loved entertaining and contributed greatly to many community events.

Following a previous accident, she raised money for air ambulance causes, including a lengthy charity cycle ride. The air ambulance remains close to her family's hearts and any donations will go to this cause.

Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Mrs Vigar was born in Dorset and lived in Charminster in her early years, before settling in Cerne Abbas.

She attended Dorchester Preparatory School and Leweston, and then studied agricultural economics at Reading University.

She worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in Whitehall before returning to Dorset in the late 90s, following a career change to agricultural merchanting.

She married husband Chris in June 1999 and the couple lived in Cerne Abbas.

Mrs Vigar had a very successful career with Banks Agriculture, Cargill and then Frontier Agriculture.

She had a passion for all country sports and was a great believer in people's rights to undertake those sports.

She hunted with the Cattistock Hunt from a very young age and in recent years was a joint master. At the time of her accident, she was acting in her role as field master with the Cattistock Hunt.

Mrs Vigar was known for being incredibly friendly on the hunting field and particularly welcomed any newcomers.

She also enjoyed tennis, reading, swimming and walking her three beloved Jack Russell terriers. She travelled extensively all over the world.