David, who trained for 38 years before retiring in 2019, was crowned the winner of the inaugural Racing Welfare Careers Advice and Training Service (CATS) Personal Development Award, funded by the Racing Foundation and sponsored by Hartpury University.
The CATS Personal Development Award aims to recognise the person who has put the most dedication and effort into developing their career in racing after using the CATS service. The judges were looking for someone who has been proactive and has taken every opportunity available to develop themselves in the racing industry.
A strong bank of entrants was put forward with three finalists invited to an awards lunch at the final meeting of the season at Newmarket Racecourse on Friday 29th October, at which David was revealed as the winner for his career switch to become a counsellor.
David wanted to remain within the industry but was unsure in what direction to take his career following retirement, so he came through the CATS service for some intensive careers coaching sessions. Through exploring his strengths and passions it became clear to him that he would like to offer something back to the industry in some way. Therefore, he took the challenging decision to embark on his journey to become a qualified counsellor funded by an NTFCT grant. He is now studying for his Level 4 counselling qualification which will allow him to practice as a counsellor in the industry.
David hadn’t realised as a trainer that CATS was a service he could access. He said; “It was great – it got me into talking about my future and I decided I wanted to do counselling. Through CATS and the NTF, it helped me on the course for two years. Thank you so much.”
Highly commended were both Maddy O’Meara and Jess Bedi. Maddy, international travelling person to Andrew Balding, completed qualifications in nutrition and personal training to run wellbeing classes for her colleagues, also with funding from the NTF’s Charitable Trust through CATS. Jess Bedi also obtained funding through the NTFCT to achieve her full training licence having previously trained Point to Pointers and is now running a successful training business.
Each finalist demonstrated a huge commitment to the industry and made the decision very difficult for the judges.
Caroline Turnbull, Education and Welfare Manager at the Thoroughbred Breeding Association and one of the judges on the panel said: “Judging the shortlist was very difficult as all three finalists have been really proactive and have completed some impressive personal development to get where they are today.
“However, in terms of a learning journey, it was felt that David just edged the award. To go through intensive career coaching itself after he retired from training is a challenging process but to then embark on a totally different career route to doing his counselling qualifications really is quite remarkable and we look forward to seeing where his journey ends at a time where mental health is very much in focus in the industry.”
All three finalists were recipients of the National Trainers Federation Charitable Trust Grant (NTFCT).