Hilary Lewis is a stalwart of the volunteering world having given up her time during the global pandemic to make weekly check-in and chat calls to those in racing who struggle with loneliness and isolation.
A keen racegoer and racehorse owner with Fergal O’Brien, Hilary is motivated by helping those who work tirelessly in the racing community. She was keen to get involved with this year’s ARC Malton Open Day which returned on Sunday 12 September, tying in with the start of the first National Racehorse Week.
Hilary said: “I do the check-in and chat support already so when I saw that Racing Welfare were looking for volunteers I thought it would be a good thing to do as well as interesting so that was my main reason for signing up.
“I’ve not done the Malton Open Day before as we don’t live anywhere near Malton. I really enjoyed the morning when everyone was arriving at Mick Easterby’s yard and helping out there. Chatting to all the people as they were coming in was the best part.”
A bumper crowd of over 1,260 people enjoyed some fabulous sunshine and a great buzz as they toured 12 yards of some of North Yorkshire’s best trainers, in the process raising more than £14,000 of vital funds for Racing Welfare, who provide support for anyone working in or retired from racing. There were plenty of equine superstars on show across the 12 yards opening, including John Quinn’s Royal Ascot winner Highfield Princess, Richard Fahey’s Group 1 Prix Morny winner Perfect Power and Julie Camacho’s fan favourite, Judicial.
Other highlights of a fantastic day included John Fairley and John Quinn giving a fascinating talk about the history of Highfield Stables, followed by an afternoon of fun activities at Highfield Gallops. But none of this would be possible without the support of the 17 volunteers like Hilary who generously gave their time to make it happen.
The Easterbys, famous for their joviality, were in their usual fine form. Hilary recalls: “Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and obviously being at the Easterby’s was entertaining – they’re characters as everybody knows.
“It was also nice to see a different part of the racing industry because I’ve never been to any of the yards in Malton, it’s always the Cheltenham yards I have been to.
“My main hobby is racing and owning horses, it feels like we’re the ones taking a lot being the owners so it’s nice to do the reverse. I’ve taken early retirement, it’s great to do something as I used to do a lot of work supporting people and coaching so it’s a similar feeling, you feel like you’re helping people. I also feel like I’m utilising the skills I have as well instead of not doing anything. I would definitely volunteer at Malton again.”
Anyone who is interesting volunteering for Racing Welfare can find out more here.