NO two days are the same for Lucy Charnock of Arundel, who works as an almoner for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Recently she spent an afternoon at Plumpton racecourse running a stall for the fund, selling everything from the fund’s Christmas cards and calendars to tea towels featuring Grand National winners and diaries.One of her customers was Mrs Vida Bingham of Uckfield, owner of Mon Mome, featured on the tea towel.
Another day she drove more than 50 miles to collect a Red Cross wheelchair which had been loaned to a beneficiary recovering from an accident,
and then visited someone needing help, who had applied for benefit, as well as seeing a rider who wanted rehabiliation at the fund’s Oaksey House
Lucy covers the South East area for the fund, which is a lifeline for jockeys and has its roots in a scheme established in 1964 following the horrendous accidents of riders Tim Brookshaw and four months later Paddy Farrell. Both falls resulted in severe paralysis and immediately ended two careers.
With virtually no compensation available at the time to help injured jockeys, the Farrell-Brookshaw fund was created.
Support was instantaneous and following several name changes, tireless work by many for more than 40 years, the IJF has become what it is today – a fund that has helped
more than 1,000 jockeys and which is still dedicated to helping injured jockeys when ever needed and to improving safety measures.
Lucy said:” I visit those who need help and have applied for benefit- with no money coming in there are mortages and costs to meet and families to feed. Each case has to be assessed and recommendations made. My area stretches West of Southampton, across the coast to Kent and includes South London.”
She deals with cases that need interim help after less serious injuries through to catastrophies such as that experienced by former trainer and jockey, Red Kinane, who was kicked in the head by horse when saddling up another at Wolverhampton races.
“They are all inspirational, because they will not be beaten and remain positive. They all have a burning desire to get back in the saddle again,” she said.
Another typical case was that of experienced jockey Rodi Greene last year. He hit the ground at the first from a maiden hurdler at Lingfield, with the whole weight
of his body coming on to his neck.
“I received a call to visit him at Redhill, where he had been visited the same day at 9pm by an IJA doctor. His family were in Taunton.
He could move his legs but not his arms, and was pinned to the bed. He was very tired and had to remain motionless.”
The accident happened over then three-day Bank Holiday of the Royal wedding. He had to be turned in his bed every three hours for seven weeks to enable his vertebrae to realign.
“His wife and family were far away and he was worried about rising bills and no income, but the IJF stepped in to pay outstanding bills which took a great weight off his mind,” said Lucy.
For Rodi, her visits were a contributory factor in enabling to get back on his feet.
He told the IJF: “I had nothing to look forward to and it was really tough. But Lucy would bring me the Racing Post and she was great fun. It meant
so much having this support.”
Lucy comes from a family that involved in racing- father was involved and her aunt is East Sussex point to point trainer Diana Grissell. She herself did a land management degree to enable her to go into racecourse management and had a spell in Sport PR Management. Her husband, Robin, rode out for John Dunlop for 18 years before starting his own garage business and Lucy went on to be in charge of Lady Sarah Clutton’s racehorses at Angmering Park.
With a young son and daughter, she became a voluntary visitor for the Injured Jockeys Fund before being accepted for her current role on a part-time basis.
“I’ve been doing it for four years now and I can spend a lot of time in my car- one day I had to do three hospital visits at different places! But I love my job,
It is very fulfilling and also very humbling. I do case reports recommending what help is needed financially and jockeys are immensely grateful to have a light at
the end of the tunnel,” she said.
For more information on the valuable work done by the IJF see:www.ijf.org