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15 January 2019

Musselburgh Racecourse a front runner in offering mobility scooters

Musselburgh is leading the way in supporting campaigner Rhona Elliot’s ambition for every Scottish racecourse to offer free use of mobility scooters.

The East Lothian track invested in two scooters after taking advice from former jockey and trainer Rhona, who has had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for 30 years and who campaigns to raise awareness of the condition.

Awarded the MBE in 2017 for her fundraising activities, which has raised more than £135,000 for MS and the Injured Jockeys Fund, Rhona is also the founder of the horseracing owners’ syndicate, the MS Borders Racing Club. The syndicate members raised £15,000 when they walked and rode 52 miles over the Lammermuir Hills on a route from Musselburgh Racecourse to Kelso Racecourse.

“Racecourses are marvellous places for disabled people in that they usually have ample car parking, lots of flat surfaces, good toilet facilities and if the weather is not great there are places where you can take cover.

“However, despite all those positives, some people do find it difficult to get around and they would welcome additional support to make a day at the races an even better experience,” said Rhona.

As a regular attendee at racecourses throughout the UK, Jedburgh-based Rhona quickly saw a need to offer better facilities for racegoers who have disabilities. Believing that more could be done, she thought that a good start would be for each of Scotland’s five racecourses to commit to providing mobile scooters.

Taking on the suggestion, Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth gave the green light for an investment in two mobile battery-operated scooters, which are available free for use on racedays.

“Rhona has done a fantastic job over the years in raising awareness of MS and in supporting the Jack Berry House rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys. We were happy to take on her challenge and hope the scooters will bring added enjoyment to racegoers so they can get around the course more easily and better enjoy all that Musselburgh has to offer on a raceday.”

Rhona added: “I noticed that at the larger racecourses in England people could hire mobility scooters and I hope that Scottish courses can at least match this or go better and offer them free. I am delighted Bill Farnsworth had taken up this idea and I am sure the scooters will be very popular at Musselburgh.”

The mobility scooters are free to use but must be “hired” in advance by phoning the racecourse office on 0131 665 2859.

Photo left to right: Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, campaigner Rhona Elliot, former jockey John Bradburne.

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