Louisa Allen is Head Person for Epsom trainer Jim Boyle. She has long been associated with Epsom’s racing community, through her interactions with Racing Welfare and her role on the Executive Council of the National Association of Racing Staff (NAORS), representing stable staff at a national as well as regional level.
Louisa has worked with Racing Welfare’s South-East representative, Katy Ferguson, since Katy joined the charity in 2017 and says:
“Katy has been amazing, she has worked so hard to bring racing’s people together. The community had become fragmented, but the change in recent years has been outstanding.
“Racing Welfare put on many fun events for the local racing staff. Myself and members of the team here at Jim’s have attended several social events including rounders, quiz nights and barbecues. They are always well attended and enjoyable events. It is amazing what these gatherings can do for staff at all the local yards, just bringing everyone together on a regular basis is so good for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. It keeps us all talking and interacting as a community.”
When asked about the help she has received from Racing Welfare personally, Louisa speaks in-depth about the challenges she has faced with her own physical and mental health:
“I’ve been in racing for many years and being over 40 you can say I’ve had my fair share of tumbles! My injuries mounted up, and there came a time that I needed to seek help to be able to continue to do my job.
“I contacted Katy for help with the countless niggles I was facing. I’d injured my shoulder and my lower vertebrae in separate incidents, and the injury to my back in particular was starting to see effects on other areas of my body, such as shooting pains down my leg. There was a point where I didn’t want to carry on due to the pain. I’d lost faith in my GP and my back pain was so bad that I was struggling to even sit in the saddle at one point.”
After contacting Racing Welfare for help, Louisa was referred to a physiotherapist through Racing’s Occupational Health Service.
“I can safely say that without the physiotherapy Racing Welfare provided the pain would have been unbearable and I’d not have been able to continue working in a racing yard at all. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my everyday life is genuinely so much more enjoyable now!”
In addition to receiving help for her physical injuries, Louisa speaks about how Racing Welfare’s mental health services have supported her through a difficult period.
“There are a lot of emotions and ups and downs in the racing industry. There came a time when I needed to seek help to clear my own head. I’d lost my way, life and work had got too much. Just talking about how I was feeling was the best thing I did.
“Even though I received direct support for my difficulties a few years ago, it has had a lasting effect – I’m a lot better at talking to my partner about things now.”
Louisa continues to talk passionately about Racing Welfare’s services, as in her central role as a Head Person she is often the person that other members of racing staff come to in times of need.
“I have signposted countless members of Epsom’s racing staff to the charity for help with a myriad of issues – not just for their physical and mental health. I know that at the end of the phone there is someone that can help us get through any of life’s challenges, including bereavement, housing, financial issues and even nutritional advice!
“It is really very easy to access Racing Welfare’s support services. In my role I often help others who might be lacking confidence to access the services for the first time, I also encourage them to help themselves knowing full well that Racing Welfare will be there to follow up and ensure they are getting all the help they need. Katy always checks in on every person that has accessed services in our area, it is very reassuring to know she is there for us all.
“As I have been saying for many years now, if you are facing a challenge then the tools to overcome it are there at your fingertips, thanks to Racing Welfare. I’d encourage anyone facing difficulties to take that first step and make a change.”