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.

20 May 2022

Ben Warn joined Go Racing in Yorkshire as Chairman just before the launch of the Yorkshire Beacon Programme

I joined Go Racing in Yorkshire as their Chairman in March 2022, a role I’m delighted to take on.  I’m based in York and have been for most of my life and that’s very much the reason for my love of horse racing.  My wife runs a group of Nurseries in York and alongside helping her with that, I have a couple of Non-Executive/Advisor roles in the sports content and betting industry.  My background is commercial/marketing/product focused. I was lucky enough to get involved in the internet in the mid-90s before anyone knew what it was, so have spent most of my working life in and around technology.   

I’m sports mad, so jumped at the opportunity to join the Sportinglife as it closed the newspaper and launched online.  My time there led onto Blue Square, Skybet and Perform Group where I held a number of different Senior Management roles, the last being the Managing Director of Perform’s Media Division based in Leeds. I was actively involved with the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival during my time at Skybet.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting all the wonderful  Yorkshire racecourses as a “normal” racegoer, sponsor, owner and even a winning owner at Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster, Ripon and York.

Having been in the position of Chairman of Go Racing in Yorkshire for just over a month I am quickly learning about all the activities undertaken by both the marketing organisation itself and the nine racecourses in the county.

One project launch while I have been at the helm is the Yorkshire Beacon.  Modelled on the existing beacons at Aintree and Newmarket the racecourses have got together, under the guidance of Racing Together, to organise a programme of community engagement events and activities which cover a spectrum of ages, throughout the year.

There are so many differences between the county’s racecourses, but they are united by the strong geography of Yorkshire.  The Yorkshire beacon does not follow a one size fits all model but allows the racecourses to tailor their activity to the needs of their own local community, and also includes Trainers, as other racing-related organisations in the county that have so much to offer their local communities.

Racecourses are reliant on their local communities in lots of ways, either providing staff for the workforce or attending events that take place and while corporate social responsibility and community engagement has always been an important part of business strategy, the racecourses are not always the best at extolling their work in this area. 

Coming together under the beacon, is an example where the sum is greater than the total of the parts. It gives the opportunity to spot gaps and identify groups who are not being represented as well as spreading the activity across the calendar year.

The launch came at Wetherby where the team worked with a local organisation, Wetherby in Support of the Elderly, a registered charity with the aim of improving quality of life for the over 60s by providing community-based activities, information, help and support.  Some of the guests have had very little social interaction over the last couple of years and getting them out of their houses for an enjoyable afternoon of racing was very rewarding.

Ripon hosted a Pony Club careers day during the Easter holidays and will also be inviting some secondary school pupils to join them on a raceday, learning about the different roles available.

Catterick’s plans include a racecard colouring competition for local primary schools and activity on their Platinum Jubilee raceday.  Similarly, Pontefract have opted for the design approach, working with New College on a variety of projects.

Beverley Racecourse are taking on an intern over the summer period, giving a local student full exposure to the racecourse in a bid to help them build experience in every area to help with employability in the future.

Doncaster are working with the Autism in Racing team and will be hosting a specialist day during the summer and Thirsk is going to be organising an event for retirees.

In October, Redcar will host a pony racing taster day and York will be volunteering locally at the end of their season.

Collectively, we enjoyed taking part in Racing Together’s Community Engagement day on Thursday 5th May and the racecourses were represented at New Beginnings, a racehorse rehoming charity to help them with maintenance and new projects, ensuring that they can continue to serve the vulnerable thoroughbred population.

Of course, there are many more racing stakeholders in Yorkshire than the racecourses.  In racing terms, the county could be self-sufficient as it has everything and for that reason the beacon is more than just the racecourses.

The training yards of Jo Foster and Jedd O’Keeffe, who already undertake their own community work, are keen to get involved and we are working on ideas with Jack Berry House, the jockey rehabilitation centre in Malton, The National Horseracing Centre and Goffs, both located in Doncaster.

While this is a pilot year, the activities continue to evolve and we look forward to engaging more people, both recipients and facilitators, putting the horseracing industry, which is worth over £300m to the county, at the heart of its community.

Back to news