Skip to content
Sign up for latest news and events

Explore British Racing’s Directory of Community and Education Activity…

The Directory maps nationwide activities from over 130 organisations that are harnessing racing’s assets to help people develop skills, increase physical activity and create a more diverse and inclusive sport.

Email to add your organisation or retrieve your login details.

08 March 2024

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we also celebrate last week’s Thoroughbred Industry Employee Community Award winner, Lauren Semple.

In a hotly contested category, Lauren’s volunteer work with the Scottish Racing Academy (SRA) gave her the edge over fellow finalists Jo Flaherty (Chelmsford Racecourse) and David Letts (Racing with Pride) at the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA), sponsored by Godolphin.

The Scottish Racing Academy (SRA) provides education and training within horseracing, and Lauren’s volunteering has made a significant impact on their work since 2020. In a professional capacity, Lauren works for Police Scotland, and her efforts with young people in deprived areas has enabled her to signpost them to the SRA, which has led many to complete training modules creating pathways to employment and further training.

More recently, Lauren organised for the Scottish Police Recreation Association, a riding club for serving and retired members of the Scottish police force, to work with the SRA to learn about opportunities in the racing industry and complete a horse care qualification. 

Racing Together caught up with Lauren who reflected on her success.

Humbled by the nomination

It is a real privilege to have won the award and I am truly thankful for everyone involved in the event, including the BHA and Godolphin, from the run-up to the night itself plus all the judges and nominees. I was made very welcome by everyone. The day itself was excellent from start to finish, and I am so grateful and humbled for being nominated, meeting wonderful people and then an excellent evening! 

Most importantly for me, was the increased the exposure of the opportunities that are not often seen or understood within the Scottish Racing Academy’s portfolio. These projects provide a real opportunity for individuals who, in some cases, do not complete any other qualifications. We have seen some of last year’s group go on to the next level and request work experience in yards, changing their lives for the better. 

I should also say that after winning, I have spent time reflecting on the other people and projects that were shortlisted, and it is really, really inspiring to meet people like David Letts who has also achieved so much for horseracing and David Porter-Mackrell (overall winner of the TEIAs). They have reached out to help with ideas for the project, which has been completely overwhelming. 

A true network in Scotland

The project was developed through multiple organic conversations among the equestrian network in Scotland. I was introduced to Eleanor Boden (SRA) at Blair Horse Trials and the rest is history. It took a while to get the first cohort organised logistically but when we did, it was a real success. I just find the organisation amazing, as they offer opportunities to everyone, even those from non-horse backgrounds, which my projects fall under.

Because of challenges to funding due to cuts in Scottish Education, the project can only run this year because of the £10,000 prize money from these awards. We have also applied to other trusts, so fingers crossed! I am really hoping to be moving into a national role so this will allow for expansion across the nation and create a feeder into workplace training, funding dependant. I am hoping to introduce the project into schools and highlight the amazing opportunities racing can provide, making them aware of potential employment opportunities within the industry that might not be obvious at first glance. I have spoken to so many people from all over the UK who want to run a similar project to the one I run and that to me is just amazing.

Key has been to target specific community groups

Horseracing has a huge opportunity to be a pillar within the community. The industry needs to work hard at understanding how to make these connections meaningful for those who want to get involved, and how to reach people outside the normal circles and think outside the box on how to engage them. The project in Scotland has worked due to the absolute commitment from the SRA and their inclusion framework that specifically targets community groups that have not always been considered. From my perspective, horseracing has provided opportunities to this group of young people and demonstrates how the industry can work to do more great stuff.

I am aware that Scottish Racing has previously had a community engagement officer, and again, I think this innovation and forward-thinking mindset has created a perfect landscape for positive stories. This project has had such a positive impact that I have other schools and community projects contacting me for information for specific individuals and hopefully when we can expand more opportunities for everyone.

Looking to the future, I love seeing individuals grow and become successful and I want to be able share this experience with as many as I can. so hopefully if we can expand the project it will come together. I am also looking forward to taking the trophy – named ‘Kelpie’ by the children involved in our projects after the Falkirk horse head monuments – on a tour to celebrate the amazing achievement of everyone involved in the project.   

Back to news