Hard to sum up Eleanor Boden in a succinct way. Let’s just say she’s the type of person that doesn’t let the grass even think about growing. Soon to be supporting Scottish Racing’s Community Engagement work, Eleanor reflects on how she will draw on all her experience, be it as a PHD student, lecturer, charity worker and Cartmel’s Yard manager to show what racing can and does do for others.
Hello, I am Eleanor Boden and I am delighted to be joining the Community Engagement team at Racing to School to drive forward Racing Together activity in Scotland. We have such an active and positive group of racecourses up here that I’m cetain we can coordinate some good initiatives over the next 12 months.
I enjoy working hard and promoting our sport to anyone who will listen. Travelling was a prominent part of my childhood and I am fortunate that my parents are both into horses and racing, so as you would expect, my time in Abu Dhabi and Singapore was peppered with show jumping, dressage and evening racing. When we returned to the UK I got my first shared pony, Toffee (Nana’s Treat) and that was it, I had the bug.
As I got older, I continued to ride and work alongside my academic endeavours. It was during this time my love of racing was reignited, and I worked in the local bookmakers and rode for a point-to-point trainer.
After a 12-month Graduate Internship at an equine therapy centre; the completion of a Masters Degree; a few papers published and a book chapter written, I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at Myerscough College. I was always encouraged to embed my interests and experiences of horseracing within my teaching, which lead to the introduction to former Racing to School boss Judith Allen. That meeting gave me the chance to extend my teaching experience in an environment and sport I love.
I stayed in teaching for four years before joining HEROS Charity, in Fawley near Lambourn, as the Education and Training Development Manager. This position has really opened my eyes to the significant impact that racing can make on people from such diverse backgrounds. This role involves communication and referrals from a number of charities and local councils who recognise the opportunities available to people that may have never considered the benefits of working alongside horses or in horseracing before.
There is no denying that I love people, I mean I also love horses, but people and development are my passion. I would like to think that everything I do in my working and research life has been of benefit to others (cliché I know). I am currently completing my PhD at Durham University titled ‘A Sociological Study of Learners’ Experiences of Horse Racing Education Streams: Trials and Challenges’ which has been part funded by the Racing Foundation and I oversee the yard at Cartmel Racecourse during their summer racing fixtures.
I have had so many career highlights to date so I will give you a few in no particular order: watching one of my former students, Charlotte Jones, ride her first winner at Cartmel Racecourse; working with adults who had been long-term unemployed to engage with accredited horseracing specific programmes and on to employment; and, quite recently, lead on the development of the first non-apprenticeship, horseracing specific college course.
I am always looking ahead and I am excited to part of the Racing Together vision to increase the sport’s community engagement and to promote what the sport does for others. I am really looking forward to getting started very soon in my new part-time role supporting 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.
Community Engagement is especially important to me, as I recognise that there are huge opportunities for diverse groups to benefit from the exceptional infrastructure that racing provides.