Over The Stable Door: Plan to let our hair down in a good charitable cause

Survival for any business is now down to its ability to diversify and the hunt is no different. Attracting new members into the sport which is, for many, a livelihood means it is time for us in the Pendle to stop resting on our laurels and re-channel our efforts to involve the younger fraternity.

It was with this in mind that I set up a young supporters committee last week whose aim is to encourage more support by a serious overhauling of our social calendar.

The committee is a mix of twenty-something party-loving social butterflies and older ex-revellers for whom burning the candle at both ends has turned into a distant memory (no guessing which group I fit in to).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We all love our hunting and the plan is to raise money for deserving local charities, making sure everyone has a damn good time doing so. Our first plan is to organise a big party.

The date is set for September 3 and it is to be held at my parents’ farm in Burley. We have a marquee, disco and hog roast booked. Running the bar ourselves will mean cheaper drinks. With tickets set at £20 and dancing continuing until 3am it is set to be one serious night so we have had to limit numbers to 250.

It is in aid of the Injured Jockeys fund (IJF), a charity close to my own heart after a fellow female amateur suffered a horrendous fall in May at Fakenham racecourse.

Isabelle Tompsett, 28,an ex-champion amateur jump jockey, actually died on impact after hitting the ground and being rolled on by her horse but medical staff managed to resuscitate her.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She is now managing to say a few words and has sight in one eye. Her rehabilitation will be a long, difficult road and made so much better by the wonderful support which the charity provides.

The IJF-built Oaksey House is a retirement home and rehabilitation centre for injured or disabled jockeys. It was opened in 2009 and has helped the likes of Guiseley’s Dominic Elsworth to recover when he was sidelined for 18 months.

Such is the demand for places at the centre that a new one is now firmly on the agenda to be built in Malton.

The centre’s completion is hugely reliant on donations, a task the ILF vice president, Jack Berry, has dedicated much of his time and resources towards fulfilling.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It is now affectionately referred to as “the house that Jack built” and will not only provide constant support for the disabled and retired in the profession but also medical consultation, physiotherapy and recuperation treatments to aid the injured jockeys’ speedy recovery.

It will offer life-changing benefits to so many of my brave colleagues and I felt it was a charity we just had to support with our first big bash at fundraising.

I will, of course be making my infamous punch (a deadly but delicious secret concoction) just to get the night rolling with a swift kick. You really can’t beat a few relaxed volunteers, their inhibitions lost, jumping aboard for the evening entertainment – a donkey derby.

One of the social butterflies asked my mother if she realised what was in store holding the party at their farm. I giggled, remembering the times my parents returned from holiday to a suspiciously clean house. It wouldn’t take long before we were in trouble, once they learnt of the wild party held in their absence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“My daughter has held some memorable parties,” mum replied. “I suspect she’ll have a few surprises to make it an entertaining night so I wouldn’t miss it.”

I am eagerly anticipating the world’s first lady jockeys only race meeting on Monday at Carlisle, open to both professional and amateur riders. The meeting is being held to raise money for Breast Cancer awareness and boasts a post- race concert from X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke.

I do hope we will have something to celebrate by then.

Related topics: