Racing Welfare is bringing Christmas cheer to 600 retired staff at the end of a difficult year, says Brian Watson, Regional Welfare Manager
As I sat down this morning to start writing this blog my phone rang for the first time. I answered and was greeted by one of our retired beneficiaries thanking me for a Christmas gift box he had just received from Racing Welfare. He told me that he had been feeling particularly sad as, due to COVID restrictions, he wasn’t going to be able to see his family this Christmas and that he had given up on the festive season altogether. Then a knock on the door and a delivery from Racing Welfare had lifted his mood no end. He was thrilled with all the Christmas goodies inside and for the first time he was getting into the Christmas Spirit.
Feeling grateful for this wonderful feedback, I went back to my keyboard but the phone rang again and this is how my morning continued, phone call after phone call from happy beneficiaries!
In ‘normal’ times, we would be holding Christmas lunches across the country for many of our retirees . These lunches are an important date for many at this time of year and when it became clear that they wouldn’t be able to go ahead, it was at the forefront of our minds to do something that let the retired community know that they were still very much in our thoughts. I put my thinking cap on and the idea of the Christmas gift box was born and thanks to the generosity of both the John Pearce Foundation and the Lordship Stud the idea quickly became a reality.
Over the next couple of months, Racing Welfare joined forces with Darren Townsend and the team from Jockey Club Catering to coordinate not only what would be in the boxes, but also how they would be packed and shipped. Finally, at the end of November, a team of volunteers from Racing Welfare and Jockey Club Catering packed nearly 600 gift boxes full with delicious festive treats including chutneys, chocolate florentines and handmade flaked truffles.
For me, the Christmas boxes are the culmination of all the fantastic community work that has been done by Racing Welfare during this extraordinary year. The many messages of thanks have highlighted to me once again how important this work is, particularly during the festive season.
If you can, I would encourage you to reach out to someone in your community over the festive period, it really can make a big difference. Here’s hoping we can get back to big gatherings this time next year.