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03 June 2020

Racing back at Newmarket while support for vulnerable residents continues

Newmarket racecourse will host three days of fantastic racing action behind closed doors from tomorrow, including the first two Classic races of the season the Qipco 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, postponed from early May being run this Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The racecourse will look distinctly different than in previous years when ITV Racing broadcasts the action, but this four-day meeting marks an important step in getting the industry, which provides over 17,000 jobs, and has over 14,000 horses in its care, back on its feet.

During the nationwide lockdown, Newmarket Racecourse and Jockey Club Estates have worked within a Council COVID 19 Steering Group to support vulnerable residents in the town.

The Town Council and West Suffolk Council are also being supported in their efforts by Tesco; Discover Newmarket; Godolphin; the Newmarket Coronavirus Volunteer Network; Racing Welfare; The Racing Centre and The Newmarket Festival; The Day Centre and Open Door (Food Bank).

The group has delivered over 200 prescriptions and 135 food and essentials parcels; they have assisted with well over 400 calls and engaged the help of 225 volunteers.

A spokesperson for Newmarket’s community hub, The Racing Centre, said: “We are playing a vital role within the community of Newmarket by supporting the Newmarket Town Council Community Helpline in its steering group and in a safeguarding capacity.

“The helpline has dealt with over 700 requests for support, all of which have been met.”

The Centre is also planning to release hardship grants through the helpline for the wider Newmarket community to support those most vulnerable during the pandemic.

Shopping deliveries for isolated residents

A Town Council helpline is signposting residents in need, while The Jockey Club’s role (via all of its Newmarket counterparts) is to take referrals for shopping, so that people who are isolating and who can’t get a delivery slot can have essential items delivered.

Volunteers are calling residents to offer the box scheme and, if needed, take details for an individual shop. Details are passed to Tesco, and volunteer shoppers go in during the morning to collect and deliver using the Discover Newmarket buses. Some boxes are available at no cost, something which was boosted by a generous £50k donation from Bill Gredley to Newmarket’s Covid-19 Fund, through his property development company UNEX.

Food for the body and for the mind

Children from vulnerable families, who are not receiving their usual free hot meals will, as well as their families receive a hot meal once a week thanks to the cross-town partnership. The Jockey Club is working with Churches Together, taking referrals via the schools. The ingredients are being funded by the Newmarket Festival and cooked by Jockey Club Estates; The Bedford Lodge Hotel; The Chestnut Group and Montaz, and then delivered by Jockey Club volunteers using Discover Newmarket buses. The total meals produced has grown steadily and the town’s popular butcher Powters has been involved, with their famous sausages being in demand.

Cambridge Science Park businesses have also supported the initiative, by providing free, educational science leaflets to accompany deliveries, designed to keep children busy during the lockdown. One happy recipient commented: “Oh, it was brilliant and there were books in there for the kids. We are doing science today; some experiments will be fun and keep the kids entertained.”

A team of volunteers

While much of the focus has been around helping the elderly/ infirmed, there is now more of a focus on reaching out to families.

The Newmarket Festival Committee, chaired by Mark Edmondson, CEO of Edmondson Hall Legal Practice and a legal expert within the horse racing industry, is administrating the emergency covid-19 fund and funding food parcels for vulnerable families. It is largely through the committee that the businesses have worked together so quickly and effectively to support residents. The committee has confirmed it will mirror the Racing Welfare hardship fund, using similar criteria but for those with a CB8 postcode who don’t work in racing, in order to give the residents in the town equal access to assistance.

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