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10 September 2018

Rob Mabbett had only just started working in the role when he was voted Racing Post/SIS betting shop manager of the year in 2016. Inspired by family loss at this time, he began supporting the work of Mind, the mental health charity, which has now influenced his recent decision to join the Gordon Moody Association, which offers support to problem gamblers.

Late into the horse racing community

I was born in the village of Brough near Hull in East Yorkshire with a love of sports, including racing’s big events, which were keenly anticipated in the Mabbett household. Despite my father insisting we should have a day at the races we never went, a shame considering fine courses such as Beverley, York and Doncaster were on our doorstep.

Roots in retail

My wife Nadine, our two sons, Matthew and Andrew and I had been living away in Aberdeen for a couple of years while I was working as a convenience store manager with a large chain who were expanding north of the border. We then made the decision to move back home for Nadine to return to work, and I was happy to spend time with my young children.

I saw an advert at the time in the window of the local bookmakers in Brough for part-time work. I had experience in retail and customer service, as well as a love for sport, so I thought the role seemed perfect. I enjoyed it so much that when my children were old enough to go to school, I took the opportunity to go full-time.

A life-changing win

In 2015, I took over as manager of the betting shop branch in Brough and then 12 months later I was crowned Racing Post/SIS betting shop manager of the year. It was an amazing honour, which I could not have achieved without the backing of my fantastic team and loyal customers. My knowledge and enthusiasm for racing had grown in my time working in betting shops; I enjoyed the daily debate with my customers and colleagues, as well as being able to enjoy the action with them.

Winning this title, however, took everything to a new level! All of a sudden, I was attending racecourses up and down the country and even abroad; presenting prizes and judging best turned- out horses. I had the pleasure of meeting with owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff, and plenty of other professionals within the industry. I appeared on TV and radio, had my story relayed in print during what was the most incredible year – it was a privilege to be involved with the racing community. Needless to say, my Father and I finally got our day at the races!

Family loss gave me new outlook

During this time, my family suffered the deaths of my cousin James, and then a couple of months later my mother Gill, both losses attributed to mental health issues. As a family and with the support of friends, we campaigned for better awareness of Mental Health and took part in fundraising activities for Mind. I have completed The London Marathon; The Great North Run and Tough Mudder. This has led me to want to learn more about mental health and mindfulness; it also made me think differently about my work in betting shops and the potential impact of gambling on people’s mental health.

Gordon Moody and Gambling Therapy

Last year as part of my duties as Manager of the Year I visited the ICE totally gaming conference in London. It was there I was introduced to the charity Gordon Moody Association, which supports problem gamblers and those affected by problem gambling, through residential, online and outreach services.

I was particularly interested in the charity’s Gambling Therapy website and their new phone app. It was fantastic to see that something had been developed that could offer support and advice to anybody who was affected by problem gambling, and was so easy to use. I’ve had the app on my ‘phone ever since and have shared it with anybody I think would find it useful. To have now joined the charity as Manager of the Gambling Therapy team has made me extremely proud.

I am so glad to continue to work with the racing community and specifically with gambling operators and other organisations to support those in need of help and advice. I also will be continuing my own journey in raising awareness of mental health issues.

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