Scottish Racing appoints a Community Engagement Officer to drive forward local community activity in Scotland
Scotland’s racecourses have recognised the huge opportunities for diverse groups to benefit from the exceptional infrastructure that racing can provide to the wider community, who may have never considered the benefits that the racecourses could offer or gaining employment in horseracing before.
Eleanor Boden is a PHD student, charity worker and is also stable manager at Cartmel racecourse during the summer months. She has gained a wide-range of experience from her time as Graduate Intern at an equine therapy centre, as a Senior Lecturer at Myerscough College and as Education and Training Development Manager at the HEROS Charity, near Lambourn.
Eleanor, on behalf of Scottish Racing and Racing Together is working on a number of community engagement activities including a partnership with AltzScot. This initiative has been developed to encourage all five, Scottish racecourses to complete the ‘Friends of Dementia’ course as the first stage to become a dementia friendly sporting venue.
Eleanor who lives in Barrhead said “I am hugely excited to help increase the sport’s community engagement, to promote what the sport does for others and support this vision on behalf of the Scottish Racecourses. This is especially important given that the Scottish Government has made 2018 the Year of Young People. We have such an active and positive group of racecourses up here that I’m certain we can coordinate some positive initiatives to benefit many people from outside the racing community.”
Delly Innes, Manager of Scottish Racing, said “we are delighted that Eleanor has taken on this vital role to carry out projects to include young people, the elderly and encourage environmental sustainability at the racecourses. Each racecourse will be working with Eleanor on localised projects driven by the immediate need of the different communities”.
Ayr Racecourse boasts an impressive, award-winning programme focused on providing employment for the local community over a range of ages in the grounds/garden departments.
Presentations and tours are also organised for the Rotary Club, Civic Society, Ayrshire Women in Business and many other organisations. As if this wasn’t enough, the charity fireworks night at the racecourse raised £13,000 for the BUYMSH Charity.
Hamilton Park Racecourse is actively engaging with their local school community to broaden students’ knowledge of the racing industry, beyond just the sporting event. In 2016 this included engagement with North Lanarkshire College art students with a competition to design a racecourse mural. Hamilton Park’s 51st annual Saints and Sinners race night supported the charity once again and raised a terrific amount of money.
Anyone who has been to Kelso Racecourse won’t have missed the Charity Tea Room, which provides a different charity the chance to fund raise and promote themselves at each race meeting. The Jockeys Showjumping Challenge in and the auction of the teams the night before was held at the Twilight Meeting in September 2016 for the second time for Multiple Sclerosis and the Injured Jockeys Fund charities.
Musselburgh Racecourse has developed a strong link with Musselburgh Grammar School to provide workshops with Catering and Hospitality and Ground care. There are also exciting plans to establish a maths programme including all 1st year students (60) in 2017.
The Racecourse’s bi-centenary celebration activities included the establishment of a racecourse exhibition at The Musselburgh Museum as well as free tickets given out to charities and neighbours for the celebration raceday.
A new partnership has developed with Perth Racecourse and the local Capability Scotland unit, who look after a range of disabled users and try and encourage them to live as full a life as possible. Racecourse staff raised over £50,000 for charities throughout the year, including getting more than just their hands dirty and raised £1,500 by completing a 5k Rainbow Assault Course in aid of Clic Sargent.
Wide range of work experience opportunities at all Scottish racecourses Finding appropriate, useful and relevant work experience or placements can be a challenge for any young person. Scottish racecourses, however, are well placed to provide a variety of opportunities that ensures there is something for all ages and interests.
From marketing and sales opportunities in racecourse offices, to catering roles, groundstaff work and jobs in the stables, racecourses offer a huge range of placements.
Musselburgh Racecourse in particular has been leading the way in this area, offering a six-month placement to a student from Napier University to help her complete her degree – the initiative is set to continue for another two years. All the racecourses in Scotland also work with Racing to School, the sport’s education programme offered for free to schoolchildren and students.
Racing to School Trustee Morag Gray, new chair of the industry-wide Racing Together initiative, said: “It is fantastic to see so many racecourses across Scotland interacting and reaching out to their communities to deliver real change and lasting benefits – the long-term future of our racecourses is in their communities. That is why community engagement work is so important and we have seen some amazing initiatives in the last 12 months which is fantastic to see.”