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16 July 2020

Head of Fundraising for Racing Welfare, Mark Loades reflects on the amazing response to the charity’s Covid-19 Emergency Appeal

None of us have been immune to the challenges of the last few months, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting aspects of all of our lives.  At Racing Welfare, we have seen the effects of this first-hand, manifesting as a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to us for support.  So far this year, we have helped almost 3,500 people which equates to a 130% increase in the same period in 2019.

For me, as head of fundraising, the challenge has been to find new ways of raising funds so that we can continue delivering our services to racing’s workforce.  Our traditional calendar of events went the way of all public gatherings and community activities when lockdown hit, leaving us facing a £500k shortfall in our budget and having to rethink our approach. 

Creative ideas have helped us adapt

The team here has come up with some innovative initiatives that have engaged the racing community and I have been blown away by the level of support we have received from across the industry. 

We’ve benefitted from individual fundraising events of racing fans, like Major Andrew Johnston who spent lockdown doing the marathon distance around his kitchen in his wheelchair, while bookmakers Betfair have sponsored our virtual events. Ownership syndicates like Hambleton Racing and Hot to Trot have devised novel ways of supporting our emergency appeal, including donating a percentage of their winnings. We have even had racecourses giving us race titles to help raise awareness of the appeal.

The Furlong Factor, supported by Sky Sports Racing and the Tote, raised an incredible £50,000 and saw many of racing’s biggest names get behind the NightIn4NightOut campaign that ran alongside. There has even been a horse named after the competition, courtesy of Nick Bradley Racing. It has also been great to see yards and racing staff getting behind our successful Best Turned Out series. I have felt a real sense of unity in support of our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal and to have hit the halfway mark of £250,000 earlier this month is a great achievement.  We obviously have a long way to go but the team here is working hard on getting us over the line.  I am particularly looking forward to our virtual Open Days coming up over the next few months; there is nothing better than getting a glimpse behind-the-scenes at a racing yard. Thank you for your support.

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