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25 January 2022

Young people getting the right start to their careers in racing thanks to £100,000 donation

Racing Welfare has received three-year funding for a Housing Support Officer to provide direct, professional support to young people starting their careers in racing.  The £100,000 donation comes from Dr Johnny Hon of Global Group Racing, who is keen to nurture talent within the racing industry.

This new donation will ensure this important role continues to be there for young people over the coming years. The Housing Support Officer has already proven to play a vital role in helping young tenants at Racing Welfare’s properties across the country to manage all aspects of their lives, in turn enabling them to flourish.

One such property is MacDonald Buchanan House; modern, supported accommodation in Newmarket that is home to eighteen young people aged 16-24. These young people dedicate their life to racing, working in local yards, riding out six days a week and providing unrivalled care to racehorses. They are the future of the racing industry.

Housing Support Officer Sarah Ashley manages the accommodation and plays a key part in mentoring the tenants who are often living away from home for the first time.  She supports them to develop key practical life skills; paying bills, cooking, cleaning, setting up bank accounts, all the skills they will need to later move on to their own accommodation.

As well as providing this invaluable support, Sarah manages the building and provides pre-tenant support to those joining from the British Racing School.  Similarly, a move-on plan is implemented to ensure they leave with confidence once they move into their own accommodation.

Sarah says:

For some young people they don’t have family support so I’m the only person they have to check they are doing okay. It allows people to become more confident and thrive in all aspects of their lives.  I’ve taken the same journey myself through the racing school, working and riding in yards, it’s not easy and I understand that. I can empathise and they feel comfortable talking to me.  They are our next generation of racing staff.  If they are living well here, they will continue to do so.

Kayleigh Greensmith rides out for trainer Charlie McBride and has lived at MacDonald Buchanan House for two years. She said:

“It’s been really good, I moved to Newmarket while I was still at the racing school so I’m lucky to have a home here otherwise I wouldn’t really have had anywhere to live… it’s good that there are people checking up on you, you know you’re not on your own. The money side of things has been helpful, I was speaking to Sarah just the other day about my council tax, she sat down with me and helped me with what to say to them and to organise it all because I’ve just turned 18 so I’ve not had to pay council tax before. I’ll be moving out in June 2022, and I feel like I’ve been well equipped to look after myself.  I’m much more confident than I was before and I’m now going to rent elsewhere with new friends who I have met here.”

Ultimately, Racing Welfare relies upon grants and donations to provide valuable services like this to those working in the horseracing industry.  Dawn Goodfellow, Chief Executive at Racing Welfare was keen to extend her grateful thanks to Dr Johnny Hon for his support, saying

“This generous funding will have a very real and positive impact upon the lives of these young people now and for many years to come. We can never underestimate the importance of young people experiencing a positive start to their careers and adult life, which is vital both for the individuals and the future of the racing industry.”

Dr Johnny Hon, owner of Global Group Racing, said:

I am delighted to back this project for the next three years.  As a passionate racing fan and owner of Albert House Stables, I know the importance of supporting all the great people who make racing happen. Young people come into racing with a love of horses and a desire to share in the excitement of winning races, but they have not always been well supported and they can be vulnerable in their personal lives. This project makes a real difference and sets an example that should be copied elsewhere in racing communities.