Smiles all round as Greatwood presents certificates to its successful students
Wednesday (July 6) was the Greatwood Charity's certificate presentation day - a day not for the retired racehorses, but for the young people the horses help so much, a day for smiles and quiet pride. And luckily a day of sunshine.
It was also a day for the assembled parents and teachers to thank the charity's founders, Helen and Michael Yeadon, the whole Greatwood team at its Clench Common stables, and its donors and sponsors. They were also celebrating the tenth anniversary of Greatwood's pioneering programmes and courses for children and young adults with additional educational needs.
Students from twelve schools were collecting certificates marking the successful completion of their courses - from those designed to develop life skills and emotional maturity in younger students to diploma courses for skills that prepare older students for employment, training and personal development.
The ceremony was compered by Philip Brannan of the Sportsguide consultancy - known to many as the voice of the Newbury Racecourse parade ring.
The audience heard from Jackie Smith MBE, headteacher at Uplands School in Swindon, from Helen Sanders, inclusion manager at St John's Academy, from Emma Cassidy from the Northern Racing College at Doncaster, and from Shaun Stacey and his mother, Louise.
Shaun, a St John's student who is now fourteen, has developed strongly through his Greatwood courses over the past eight years.
Now confident enough to address the audience, he has a burning desire to become a jockey - but first, he hopes he will take a course at the Northern Racing College. As he chatted to visitors after the ceremonies were over, someone said: "He'll make a fine jockey - he looks the part already."
Shaun received his certificate for the new INITIAL BIT course which provides the basic skills for the racing industry. Also getting his certificate for this course was 19-year-old Abdulkareem Adam - a refugee from the Sudan, where, he told the audience, he started riding camels and cows when he was five.
He walked with his family across Africa after his village had been attacked and many of its people massacred. He is now very much at home at Greatwood and was very excited to get a second award as the first recipient of the Progression Prize.
He too wants to start a career in the racing industry. He has been accepted for a course at the Northern Racing School. He will be following James Paget who joined a Grreatwood course in 2012, went on to the Northern Racing College and a job with trainer Neil Mulholland in Bath. And last year led a Barry Geraghty and Druids Nephew into the winner's enclosure during the Cheltenham Festival.
Just one of the 3,000 children and young people who have benefited from Greatwood's unique courses since 2006. The charity's motto - Changing Lives ...Creating Futures - really does describe its aim and its successes.