“We’ve never seen engagement like it. Unfurling our biggest ever logo at Cheltenham was one thing, but to see how WellChild’s cause was embraced by The Jockey Club and the racing community was remarkable,” says CEO Colin Dyer.
Just over a month after Minella Indo powered home at Cheltenham to cap an incredible four days of jump racing at The Festival, WellChild’s chief executive Colin Dyer reflects on the impact the sport’s premier event is having on the charity headquartered in the town.
The WellChild Gold Cup marks something of a watershed in sponsorship activation at such a prestigious level but, as Colin Dyer says: “It was racing’s support that made it; in many ways the motivation was an affinity with the sport as opposed to our cause alone. We’ve never seen engagement like it.”
Beneficiaries unearthed through coverage
WellChild’s vision is for every child and young person living with serious health needs to have the best chance to thrive – properly supported at home with their families. The charity had received some support from the racing industry in the past, not least through the efforts of ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlain as an Ambassador. However, with only five weeks lead time from The Jockey Club’s announcement to the tapes going up for The Gold Cup, Colin admits this was an affinity partnership like no other.
“People will be drawn to the magnificent figure of £200,000 raised for our work, which is around 20% of our unrestricted annual income, and that is, of course, amazing,” said Colin. “However, the partnership has also connected us with new beneficiaries because of this unique platform, as well as helping our existing users.
Jockey Club took a great risk
“I remember thinking to myself that the work is far from done when the partnership deal is done, and we were so impressed with the lead taken by The Jockey Club and how they listened the charity’s message. How they then took it forward through their own networks with such accuracy was crucial – getting it to the right people very quickly.”
More than an eyebrow or two was raised when The Jockey Club chose this year not to pursue a commercial sponsor to take on the baton from Magners, but the partnership with WellChild has been applauded widely.
“They embraced it and took a risk on the biggest event of the year, and against incredibly difficult trading conditions to get behind our cause,” added Colin.
“It was The Jockey Club’s idea to produce staff coats, masks and cups and they really got on board with this initiative.”
Unique sentiment around racing
For Colin and his team this is not the end of the road for WellChild and racing and in some ways the work is only just starting. “We want to build experiences for our families,” said Colin.
When asked what racing did particularly well to support the charity, Colin said: “I think it comes down to the audience and the historical loyalty of the racing community; the sport seems to want to punch above its weight to take its opportunities. It has a unique sentiment around it and the community focus to want to support something positive.
“If you build the message correctly, something like this is possible – and the results have been amazing.”
Colin was keen to reference a treasured personal letter he received from Minella Indo’s trainer Henry de Bromhead, alongside all the generosity of that week’s participants and fans who contributed prize money and other donations – all of which set the tone for such goodwill, innate within the racing community.