York Racecourse Equine Ambassador Goldream lifts spirits of former doctor

Goldream with John and Jan Kirk

Today, York Racecourse Equine Ambassador former racehorse Goldream (Remy) and his friend Poppy visited St Leonard’s Hospice and met with patients and their families as well as visitors to its Sunflower Wellbeing Hub.   

In partnership with the racehorse rehoming and retraining charity New Beginnings the former dual Group 1 winning racehorse was enrolled as York’s ambassador last year to help deepen the racecourses’ connection with the local community.  

The equine pair’s visit follows research released last week by Bristol University via the International Forum of Racehorses (IFAR) on the mounting evidence that former racehorses are particularly well-suited to providing Equine Assisted Services and Equine Assisted Therapy, delivering life changing support to people affected by physical and or mental health conditions.   The experience was especially beneficial to John Kirk who has Parkinson’s Disease and who was at the Sunflower Wellbeing Hub receiving support with his wife Jan. 

Jan said:

It’s brought John to life, I’ve not seen him animated like this in a long time or move so well.  It’s remarkable. John has a history with horses as his first job after qualifying as a doctor in 1958 was in Africa. His job involved travelling many miles every day in remote, mountainous terrain on horseback seeing patients, so being up close with Goldream and Poppy today was especially poignant for him.”

Rachel Banks, Occupational Therapist at St Leonard’s said:

We’re sincerely grateful to New Beginnings and York Racecourse for arranging such a special afternoon for our patients, visitors and staff. Having Remy and Poppy here was an absolute privilege for us all, giving patients a truly memorable experience to talk to their families and friends, with lots of reminiscing about past experiences with horses. Thank you to all involved in making this invaluable visit happen.”

Amy Swales, Senior Marketing and Sponsorship Manager at York Racecourse added:

The visit by Remy and Poppy to St Leonard’s was an absolute privilege for York Racecourse.  The positive impact they both had on the wellbeing of the patients and their families at St Leonards’ was almost instant.  The Thoroughbred is a truly remarkable and adaptable species and we are so grateful to be able to celebrate and admire them as athletes here on Knavesmire throughout our racing season. Now, to see Remy along with the thousands of other former racehorses leading meaningful lives in their second careers is just as rewarding”. 

Pam Atkinson of New Beginnings added:

The way Remy and Poppy responded to each person they met today at St Leonards was incredible to witness.  We are so proud of them both, with Remy being an outstanding example of the kindness of the Thoroughbred along with its versatility.”

Feature image: Goldream with John and Jan Kirk

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