Success Stories & Testimonials

James' Success Story

Just three years on from his first ever contact with a racehorse at Greatwood Charity, James has realised a dream that few ever do – leading in a Cheltenham Festival winner.

Winner of the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase
The Druid's Nephew, 10th March 2015
Winner of the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Speaking to James at Newbury Racecourse on Friday 20th March, he had this to say about Greatwood Charity and his career in racing: “Before I went to Greatwood I had never had any contact with horses but as soon as I walked through the gates I knew that I wanted to work with horses for the rest of my life”

James attended Greatwood’s Get Going programme during the summer of 2012; James came to the charity from the Amber Foundation (a residential charity that offers a fresh start to homeless unemployed young adults and helps them gain employment and accommodation) via the Princes Trust.

"I was living in a hostel when I met someone that had been to the Northern Racing College (NRC) when my ears pricked up and I thought that may be something I would like to do. Also when I got talking about racing one of the members of staff at the hostel informed me that he used to be a jockey. Through the Princes Trust I went to Greatwood where they gave me the opportunity to apply to come to the NRC on their 12 week residential foundation course.”

After successfully completing the Get Going programme and gaining an accredited qualification in ‘Basic Care of Horses’, through Greatwood James was then given a place at the NRC. “My first week was really interesting and I liked the fact that they had you doing everything from mucking out to riding within the first week. I’m not so keen on the mucking out but when I rode for the first time it makes the mucking out well worth it! The first 6 weeks have gone so quickly I can’t believe it, I’m looking forward to the next 6 weeks of working hard and getting a placement with a racehorse trainer as I now know it is definitely what I want to do!"

After completing 12 weeks at the NRC, James successfully gained more qualifications and subsequently went on to secure full time employment and now has a career within the racing industry. Now working for Bath based trainer, Neil Mulholland, James is going from strength to strength and is in charge of Festival winning The Druid’s Nephew who is now vying for the most illustrious prize in National Hunt racing with an entry in the Crabbies Grand National next month.


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"It was indeed my pleasure to join you and see what good work you all do there. I have of course known all about Greatwood but had never been up close and personal before. Besides the well-being of your equines the joy you have given to those children is inspiring. I had a good time chatting to children, helpers and the odd parent afterwards and one girl in particular showed exactly how you and the animals can totally change a life around. Sadly I forget her name but her mother asked me to have a photo with her and while we chatted the daughter told me she went for many years refusing to talk to anybody until you unlocked the shutters that had caused her to choose silence. We were able to chat and laugh together and it humbled me.”

Richard Pitman, BBC Broadcaster & Author

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your efforts last week in making Get Started with Horses a truly beneficial and inspirational course. The young people left Greatwood full of hope and a sense of achievement thanks to everything that you did for them. We received such a warm welcome from the very beginning and you could not have done enough for us. You were always there with a ready smile and a wonderfully positive attitude to help our young people feel valued, cared for and respected. Your efforts and attitude instilled in them a sense that they belonged and most importantly, could achieve anything that they put their minds to. I am very grateful for all your hard work in making this course one of the best in my opinion, that The Prince’s Trust has to offer young people who are faced with barriers that stand in the way of them leading fulfilling lives.”

Marguerite Doherty, Princes Trust Programme Executive

"Greatwood are a well-established charity and delivered a very high quality programme on behalf of the Trust. The venue, facilities and resources they possess enable them to run a successful programme. The farm served as a great environment for our young people to work in. Greatwood’s connections in the industry meant they could include valuable parts of the programme including a visit to a training yard, a session with a farrier and a session with a vet. The educational department at Greatwood were excellent. Their capacity to run the programme meant I could rely on them to deliver high quality sessions and manage behaviour of our client group. The staff who form the education department at Greatwood have very well suited experience. Laura has a background in teaching and Chris has a background in sports coaching, so both are well suited to working with young people in this capacity. They both have a great manner with the young people. They also offer volunteer placements to young people who express enthusiasm and motivation. This serves well as a progression for some of our young people and increases the value of Greatwood to us as a delivery partner. The staff were very aware of the Princes Trust’s aims and readily discussed potential progressions for the young people.

In summary Greatwood are an excellent delivery partner and our hugely valued by the Princes Trust. I would recommend them as such to anyone wanting to work with them in this respect.”

Jaison Van Den Bosch, Programme Executive - Get Started Programme, The Prince's Trust Bristol Centre

"Kerry, 17, from Swindon has experienced family troubles during her time at school which disrupted her education. As a result Kerry underachieved at school. She also experienced bullying and found her self-esteem and confidence was very low and she found that she was depressed. Kerry was extremely shy and found new social situations very scary.

Kerry had always had an affinity with horses and when she heard about the Get Started with Horses course she immediately showed interest. Kerry felt very intimidated by the large group but after the taster day she felt more at ease with the group. She attended the Get Started with Horses programme and completed the Level 2 Horse Care qualification attached to the week. Completing the week long course represents a huge achievement in itself for Kerry. But she surpassed herself and went on to join the Princes Trust Team programme. She is now in week 9 of the Team programme and is feeling more confident and has come out of her shell and has made more friends. She feels she can achieve her goals now and wishes to go on and volunteer.’

Jaison Van Den Bosch, Programme Executive, Get Started Programme, The Prince's Trust Bristol Centre

"I am writing to express both my appreciation and my gratitude for all the wonderful work that you do supporting children in Wiltshire with significant social, behavioural and emotional needs… The impact of your interventions can be significant in raising these children’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It helps develop their learning and their ability to learn new skills through listening, following instructions and co-operating.”

Strategy Manager Primary Behaviour Support, Wiltshire Council

"Many pupils have become more compliant with each other as well as happier to communicate with adults”

Rowdeford School, Devizes

Horse Power makes a real difference to the lives of the young people it serves, one school with particularly troubled children, said: "We have seen progress in the boys; they are more tolerant of each other. The best bit was seeing them trust the animals and this will help them build more caring relationships with people.”

"... not only is she enjoying it with you but we have been able to reintegrate her back into English Maths and Science lessons as a result of her feeling generally more cared for and wanted. Another student, bless, her enjoys Greatwood to the point that she is considering Lackham next year and an animal care course.”

John Bentley School, Calne

A school refuser attended Horse Power and afterwards was able to successfully go back to school. Her Head Teacher remarked: "I cannot believe the difference Greatwood has made."

"Greatwood came to my attention through Wiltshire Behaviour Support Service; identifying that some children in our school find full tine mainstream education challenging, it was decided to offer an alternative provision in the form of a Nurture Group. The Greatwood Horse Power Programme provides the same structured and multi-sensory curriculum as our Nurture Group; however the environment provides new and exciting learning experiences that our school setting could never offer…..

Attending Greatwood has given all the children real experiences that they can discuss with their peers and provide life long memories…..As a professional who works exclusively with challenging children within a mainstream setting, I have found Greatwood to be a fantastic learning experience for the children and for myself. Each child has benefited from increased empathy, over-coming anxiety to improve self-discipline skills. The skilled teaching staff have, through observation, given me new strategies and ideas to use in my own setting. From all the children and staff at Amesbury Primary School a big thank you.”

Maxine Handley-Wells, Pastoral Support Manager at Amesbury CE Primary School

"One of my students attended the Horse Power programme and coming to Greatwood was the glue that held his year together."

Colin Taylor, teacher at Hardenhuish School

"I cannot believe the difference Horse Power has made - where all other school based support has failed Greatwood gave her confidence to have a go and her self-esteem rose. She made her first attempts at independent writing and came to school with a smile on her face for the first time ever."

Headmistress of Ogbourne St George School

“I have seen definite improvement with Meggie, she has recently begun starting conversations with me!!! I was so thrilled and Greatwood is usually the topic of conversation. A great start for her, I want to try to keep the momentum going and therefore the photos would be a fab addition.”

Vivienne Fitton, Inclusion Co-ordinator, Devizes School

‘…we have seen a really good improvement in his behaviour and his ability to listen more closely to instructions before acting, since he has been coming to you. We are hoping to send him to you again later in the Summer Term, I hope you will have space for him then.’

Headteacher, Shalbourne Primary School

"Our students attending the Horse Power programme at Greatwood have found their voice. It has developed their communication, confidence and self-esteem, providing a safe, whilst challenging environment to enhance their learning potential."

Vivienne Fitton, Inclusion Co-ordinator, Devizes School

"Greatwood has my enthusiastic support for their marvellous work with horses who have given all of us so much pleasure during their racing careers and who are all too easily forgotten when their racing days are over.”

John McCririck, Journalist, Broadcaster and Racing Pundit

"The beauty of Greatwood is that they work alongside the racing industry which has helped immeasurably in many ways, not least in raising awareness of the plight of retired racehorses. People are now aware that Greatwood is much more than the last resort and plays a major role in the re-schooling and rehoming of ex-racehorses.”

A P McCoy, 17 times Champion National Hunt Jockey

"Once you have seen first-hand what a fantastic job they all do at Greatwood you will not hesitate to want to help, just as I did. To see the smile on the childrens’ faces when they are around the horses, makes you feel as though you have made a really big difference."

Mick FitzGerald, Grand National winning jockey, author and broadcaster

Kindly sponsored by:

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Rainscombe Hill Farm
Clench Common
Marlborough, Wiltshire
Tel: 01672 514535
Registered Charity No: 1117322

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