Former jockey and Injured Jockeys Fund beneficiary, Wayne Burton wanted to show his gratitude to the charity for their constant support and came up with the idea of the 9 Lives Challenge as a way to motivate friends and to raise funds.
My name is Wayne Burton and I became an apprentice jockey at the age of 17 for Richard Hannon and had around 25 rides. I was there for six years before I moved on to become a conditional Jockey for Roger Curtis in 2004, being too heavy for the Flat.
Being a jockey wasn’t easy because you had so many people to please and with a lot of money involved, small mistakes could cost you your job quite easy so, unfortunately, I had to move on again.
I spent a season with Andrew Turnell for three or four rides but because of being last in the pecking order it was always going to be tough to get a chance, so I decided to join Jimmy Fox who, until my fall, was giving me all the chances to improve and learn a lot more.
12 years on since my horrific fall
I sustained my life-changing injury in 2008, breaking my back, damaging my T4 in my spine, broken sternum and head injuries in a hurdle race at Exeter racecourse.
When I was first told about my injury and what could happen to me, it gave me the drive to keep going. The consultant came into my room and I overheard him speaking to my family saying there could be a possibility I may not be able to speak or understand people, need 24 hour care and that I would never walk.
Since then I now live alone with my best buddy Willis (dog – pictured below). I’ve worked in a fishing shop; won lots of fishing matches; built two websites; fell from 13,000 feet in a skydive with the Red Devils; won division 3 for the Thames Valleys Kings wheelchair basketball club; owned/run a garden maintenance business and recently become the brain child of the Injured Jockeys Fund 9 Lives Challenge. The latter raised well over my expectations and the £10,000 target – we absolutely smashed it hitting over £80,000!
What is the 9 Lives challenge?
I came up with an idea to give other Injured Jockeys Fund beneficiaries a challenge while the world is very upside down right now. Preparing myself and other beneficiaries to train to do as many miles as we possibly could.
The idea was to complete the mileage it would take to travel from the three IJF centres: Oaksey House to Peter O’Sullevan House to Jack Berry House back to Oaksey House, which is around 560 miles in total. The challenge was done in different forms – walking, pushing a wheelchair, cycling, running, swimming and hand cycling.
The purpose was to give beneficiaries some kind of focus, to help them with their fitness and try and raise as much money as possible for the Injured Jockeys Fund. I wouldn’t have done any of this without the huge support from the IJF and my other eight friends: Ed Barret, George Baker, Lee Davies, Sarah Gaisford, Katie Watson, Laura Scott, Isabel Tompsett and Rebecca Hewitt – they gave their all throughout the whole challenge!
Why the Injured Jockeys Fund?
The Injured Jockeys Fund has been amazing since the first day of my injury. I have an almoner on site to look after my every need. This wasn’t just to support me but the whole family at such a difficult time.
My Almoner is amazing and I would be lost without her because she is there for anything I may need. I use Oaksey House and was lucky to have this available a year after my injury, as it really helped with my rehab and meeting new friends.
Having this close to me is huge because I can use the gym and if I have any issues, I can see a physio anytime. Also, if we need any equipment or wheelchairs they support us with our every need.
They even invite and take beneficiaries out on holiday, whether is a short break in Ireland to 11 days out in Spain.
When lockdown came into place all the rehab centres had to close, which was a blow to a huge amount of people. I was one of the lucky ones to have the support from the guys that work in the gym – to FaceTime and do a gym session with me to help me keep fit.
All this inspired me to work on the 9 lives challenge to get me through lockdown and to keep me fit.
Without the Injured Jockeys Fund I wouldn’t be where I am today, so I am forever grateful!
To find out more about the 9 Lives Challenge and to support the Injured Jockeys Fund, click here.
To visit their fundraising page, click here.