I had a phone call from Racing Welfare who offered to send a representative to see me while my husband, Peter, who had worked in racing all his life, was ill so I thought ‘I’d better agree to be polite!‘ It was Adam who came here, well what a lovely fella he was.
From there, someone called me up and asked if I would like befriending phone calls to help with loneliness and although I had my husband here, I was so lonely because he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t do much at all so I agreed.
Rebecca has been ringing me ever since, every Friday for at least two years and I do look forward to her calls, she rings me on a Friday at 11 o’clock and we chat away. I’d love to meet her because she’s a lovely person. She still calls me even now Peter’s gone. I really look forward to it. Life will never be the same again, I miss him like hell but I am beginning to deal with it.
I’ve started writing short stories which helps and Peter comes up in a lot of them. I often cry while I’m writing them but writing is helping me to cope. There are other stories about life, family, my daughter who is doing well at dressage and my great-granddaughter who is a joy.
Since the lockdown, Jess from Racing Welfare has also checked in with me, she has called me twice now and I’m still having my befriending calls with Rebecca, we chat about general things; about life, about our children and when it’s over she always says ‘if you need us, we’re only a phone call away’. Jess is hoping to get some coffee mornings going up here when it’s all back to normal. I’m looking forward to it. I used to bake cakes and bring them to the coffee mornings at Cheltenham. We really enjoyed it, we also took old racing photos along which a lot of the old boys could relate to which was nice. I’m also lucky to have family around and my grandson rang me the other day and said ‘if you need something, I will get it to you somehow’.
Jess Kelsall, Welfare Officer West
I have been working with Maureen over the past couple of weeks since the COVID-19 outbreak, I called to check in with her originally. I asked her how she’s coping, I find a lot of the older people are coping better as they are used to being on their own, Maureen has been so positive which is inspiring.
We talk about her past in racing and the baking and crafts she does to keep busy as well as writing short stories. I find it fascinating and I think it’s great that she makes full use of her time to be creative in any way she can.
Maureen is the first beneficiary I have spoken to who has lost somebody close and is dealing with the grief, so we talk about all the memories her and her husband, Peter, had together. There are plenty as they were together for 64 years.
Having had a partner for that amount of time, it must be hard every day getting into a routine by yourself particularly through the COVID-19 outbreak. She was really happy to get the additional call from Racing Welfare along with her befriending calls. Any extra contact at this time can really brighten someone’s day and help to give a sense of belonging to this wonderful horseracing community.
Maureen continues to receive check-in and chat calls, and regularly attends coffee mornings and special outings for racing’s retired community. Speaking in September 2022 she said:
“I value Racing Welfare immensely – the charity has been a lifeline to me. I’m in the sticks here so I don’t see many people outside my immediate family. So to still get a weekly phone call from Eileen is just brilliant.
“My local welfare officer, Jess, is very supportive. She recently visited me after a long-awaited hip operation and brought a card signed by all my friends from the Cheltenham coffee morning. The card included a note from special guest Luke Harvey which I will treasure.”
If you are feeling lonely or isolated and you are interested in receiving befriending or check-in calls, here is more information on our check-in and chat service.
Racing Welfare’s Check-in and Chat service is part-funded by The National Lottery Community Fund