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17 June 2020

Royal Ascot: different but still the same as mighty behind-the-scenes effort pays off

The Royal Meeting this week will be the first not attended by Her Majesty the Queen during her entire reign. The lack of atmosphere and celebration is obvious in the TV coverage, with two-metre distancing and masks being worn. However, participants are clearly delighted to be back in action with some of the world’s fastest horses on show.

The rainbow-coloured floral display in the winners’ enclosure is Ascot’s tribute to the NHS. The racecourse has been very busy during the pandemic, adapting its focus from racing to its community, while still gearing up for such a different kind of Royal Ascot. The team was one of the first to mobilise to help their local community – whether through monetary and food donations, or volunteering and showing their appreciation for front line workers.

Food and essentials

On hearing from Berkshire Community Foundation, their charity partners, that Slough Foodbank was in dire need of food supplies to meet the increased need,  they quickly diverted £6,000 from their annual community fund – the biggest single donation the foodbank has ever received – enabling them to immediately purchase £3,000 worth of food via Ascot’s supply chain. Windsor and Maidenhead were also helped in sourcing foods via this method.

Nick Smith, Director of Racing & Public Affairs, said: “We are proud to be a part of the national effort to support the NHS and our local charities.  Even though we are facing difficult times, it has been wonderful to see our catering suppliers and colleagues all pull together and make a difference in our community.”

Showing appreciation

The Ascot team has also lit up their CCTV screens with ‘Thank You’ messaging, which can be seen by the public; the racecourse also became a drive through a testing site for key workers and their dependents.

A donation of £2,000 was made to First Days Charity that works to provide supplies to children in need, and £1,000 to the Thames Hospice to help with medical supplies. Another £1,000 was given to Dingley’s Promise Charity that helps less abled children and their families.

Volunteering to help the NHS and support services

The racecourse has a team of 16 volunteers, comprising employees and colleagues from CSP, who have clocked up over 1,000 hours driving medical professionals to and from hospital sites within Berkshire. A fleet of 10 BMW cars was given to the NHS to pick up doctors, nurses and medical supplies and deliver them to the sites in need.

Berkshire Vision is also being helped via a befriending service, with employees making phone calls to their isolated and vulnerable members to check they have everything they need.

In April, the racecourse donated 1,000 bottles of beer to ABF The Soldiers Charity to distribute to deserving colleagues supporting the coronavirus effort. Kingston NHS hospital also picked up 400 bottles to distribute to NHS staff at the Hospital.


Last week, Ascot launched its #StyledWithThanks charity appeal with a £100,000 donation to be split between four frontline charities: The National Emergencies Trust Relief Fund, NHS Charities Together, The Care Workers Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation Coronavirus Fund.

Ascot is inviting fans across the globe to dress up as part of the racecourse’s wider ‘Royal Ascot At Home’ campaign, and wear a hat – whether it is a ladies’ hat or a men’s top hat, panama, trilby or other racing hat – before sharing a photo on social media using the campaign hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot.

Participants are being encouraged to donate £5 to the campaign fundraising page, share their outfit photo and tell their friends to do the same, helping to spread the #StyledWithThanks message in recognition of those working on the frontline of the global Covid-19 crisis. Get involved here.

Prizes will be given for the most Elegant, Original and Uplifting outfits across the week with a panel of fashion industry judges selecting the winners. Prizes include Royal Ascot 2021 tickets alongside a lunch for two at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social with a bottle of Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage, an Afternoon Tea and Tiara Experience for two at the House of Garrard’s flagship boutique in London, and a Longines timepiece. Photos posted using the campaign hashtags will be turned into a giant rainbow mosaic image tribute which will become a permanent installation at Ascot Racecourse.

Ascot has also invited British milliners to design and create a hat following a rainbow theme, in-line with the nation’s adoption of the rainbow image. In partnership with the British Hat Guild and the wider millinery world, the designs will be auctioned online during Royal Ascot with all money raised (currently over £13,000 so far) being added to the fund.

A dedicated hub on the Ascot website has all relevant Royal Ascot At Home information such as how to download virtual race programmes – in the same iconic format as the regular printed versions – recipe cards, quizzes, activity packs, archive video and imagery, and much more to keep everyone entertained across the week. Visit Royal Ascot at Home here.

Ascot formalised their Ascot Racecourse Supports community programme in 2017, which has evolved to include education and development projects, direct funding, volunteering, and strong partnerships through their local community foundation. Visit Ascot Racecourse Supports here.

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