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Racing Welfare recently received a pledged donation of £97,560, which has enabled the charity to fund a Housing Support Officer for three years. This role will provide direct support to young people starting out their careers in racing. This generous donation comes courtesy of Dr Johnny Hon of Global Group Racing.

Today I spoke with Sarah Ashley, Housing Support Officer at Racing Welfare, to find out more about her career development throughout her time working in horseracing.

Working in a variety of roles and learning new skills through, training and educational qualifications have allowed Sarah to grow in her career, benefitting many other people working in the racing industry along the way.

Where did your racing career begin?

“After I’d finished my education, GCSEs and A Levels, I saw that the career board was advertising a racehorse care course at the British Racing School (BRS). I was intrigued so applied not really understanding what it may involve.”

“I completed a 10-week residential course at the BRS in 1995, after which I was placed at Geoff Lewis’ yard in Epsom where I learnt my trade.”

“Once finished my level 2 I worked for many trainers including Amanda Perrett, Terry Mills, and David Elsworth and was lucky to get to travel abroad to places such as Dubai and Hong Kong with the sport.”

How did training and educational qualifications help you develop your career?

“In 2011 I returned to BRS as an Instructor. I now had a family of my own and realised that the young people coming into the industry were vitally important to horseracing and I wanted to offer my experience and become a positive role model for them.”

“Throughout my time at the BRS I completed a variety of training such as safeguarding, first aid and PTTLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) teacher training, all of which I found invaluable. I also completed my level 3 in Racehorse Care and Management, which enabled me to be fully aware of the work that the students would need to undertake to get their qualification.”

What made you decide to look into roles that focused more on the people working in racing and helping them?

“It was at the BRS that I realised my calling was definitely in helping people and wanting to make a difference to the staff within racing.”

“In 2016 I changed my career path and went to work at Simon Crisford’s yard as a Head Girl. I oversaw the daily care of 45 racehorses which included feeding, administering medication as required, reporting to the trainer and keeping up to date records. I completed training in yard management which was very beneficial to the role. I felt I was a good role model and many of the staff would confide in me and ask for guidance and support.”

“When a job at Racing Welfare became available it felt like the role was made for me! I started in September 2016 and have enjoyed my years as a Welfare Officer. I have learned so much and have completed training in many areas of support, benefits, mentoring and leadership.”

How has working in the Housing Support Officer role at Racing Welfare allowed you to build your career?

The Housing Support Officer role became available through Racing Welfare receiving a pledged donation of £97,560 courtesy of Dr Johnny Hon of Global Group Racing.

“For me this role was the ideal next step in my career and development, allowing me to implement my past roles and training into this new opportunity.”

“The young staff are the future of the racing industry, and I am passionate about supporting them to excel by becoming the best versions of themselves. Many come from backgrounds with little or no family support and once they leave the BRS and move into MacDonald Buchanan House, I can help and support them to become fully independent young people through support plans, interactions and meetings throughout their two years living there.”

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to progress their career further in racing?

“It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and feel like it’s not easy to move on or up the ladder. I think it’s important to surround yourself with the right peers, conduct yourself in a professional manner and be positive about what you want. Everyone should have a dream or goal they want to achieve and if you really want something you should expect to work hard for it!”

Through the Careers Advice & Training Service there is so much advice and guidance especially from the Career Coaching service. This covers so many aspects including:

  • Career progression
  • Executive coaching
  • Career assessment
  • Return to work
  • CV creation featuring CV Clever
  • Applications & interviews
  • Job search
  • Career change within the industry

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