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23 February 2024

Sasha Thorbek is synonymous with the work of the Wiltshire-based Greatwood Charity, and earlier this month she attended the Racing Together Industry Day at Chester Racecourse. Here she reflects on the value of the day.

Greatwood was established over 25 years ago and has been using former-racehorses to support vulnerable young people and adults for the past 17 years. I’ve been on board for 12 years of my career and am currently Head of Fundraising and Communications.

My main role includes researching and approaching grant making bodies for funding to support the charity’s work, both in terms of the rescuing, rehabilitation and rehoming of former racehorses but also the delivery of our innovative and inclusive educational programmes. In addition, I am BBC Radio Berkshire’s Horse Racing Expert, something I have been doing on a freelance basis since 2008. This role involves attending and commentating on many key racedays throughout the year at many of the racecourses across England.

Industry Day – a great opportunity

Not only is the Industry Day a great opportunity to network but having attended the event last year I knew it would also be a chance to get an overview of what else is going on in other areas of the racing industry. 

One of the key messages was that the industry needs to be more vocal about the positive impact we have on the country in terms of economic impact, and that the initiatives we run support and engage the wider community, in particular helping disadvantaged people.

Plans for Community Day

Greatwood already has a partnership with Newbury Racecourse and one of our horses is their equine ambassador. We’re also looking to take one of our horses to Bath Racecourse this year as well as part of our community action.

We have invited employees of Newbury to Greatwood to volunteer. The charity will also be continuing with the delivery of our care home initiative.  This project supports positive mental and physical health and wellbeing. Its aim is to reduce loneliness and social isolation in older and vulnerable people in care homes through interaction with our former racehorses. Studies have shown that the experience of direct involvement with animals can play a role in increasing the opportunities for engaging in physical and social activities and in providing emotional support. A reduction in a sense of social isolation and loneliness will improve psychological health for older and socially-isolated adults.

For more information on the work of Racing Together partner charity, Greatwood please visit their website.

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