Blog – 12th December

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol, who is writing todays blog,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Hello again! It’s Carol!

Now that the Racing Season is over, it’s time to start getting ready for next season. 

The first job is to get the Annual Badges underway. I have ordered the 2024 metal badges and they are due for delivery at the beginning of December.  We’ve got plenty of exchange days for next year too – I have just finalised these reciprocal dates where our Annual Badge Holders get to visit other Racecourses around the country (and in Ireland) on certain days. There’s a trip to see New Beginnings and a coffee morning at the Racecourse as well. All in all, being an Annual Badge Holder is great value for money.

In August I took part in a Zumbathon to raise money for Dementia UK.  Myself, my daughter Mollie and about 30 other people did 3 hours of non-stop Zumba and managed to raise over £1,500 for a very worthwhile charity. Looking into the charity, I wanted to see what more we could do at Pontefract and so, last week, I attended a course on Dementia Awareness for Sports Clubs & Venues. I would like to share a bit of what I learned with you and how we might implement some changes at Ponte.

I have to admit that I was a bit concerned about doing the course at first, especially when I can’t remember what I did yesterday or when I find myself staring into a cupboard when I’ve forgotten what I went into the cupboard for in the first place!!!

I soon learned that there is so much more to dementia than just memory loss. There are lots of other symptoms such as:-

  • Confusion and needing help with daily tasks
  • Disorientation
  • Problems with language and understanding making communication difficult
  • Difficulty thinking things through and planning
  • Difficulty with visual perception
  • Changes in behaviour

All of these symptoms can lead to frustration.

These are just a few symptoms and it is important to remember that everyone who has the illness is different and might suffer in different ways.

Some people who have been diagnosed with dementia do not want people to know.

The course I did was aimed at giving us a better understanding of the barriers that people with dementia face in their daily lives, especially when attending a sporting event.  It really made me think.

We listened in detail to a lovely gentleman called Nigel and his wife Sandra (who is his carer) who explained the difficulties they often come across when attending his favourite sporting events. 

He explained that one on the misconceptions about dementia is that most people think it is an old person’s illness.  He said that he is only 65 and that there are people younger than him who have also been diagnosed.  When I met Nigel, it wasn’t obvious that he had dementia so if he hadn’t told me, then I would never have known.

Nigel wanted to let us know about some of the issues that he regularly came up against when visiting Sports Venues. They were a real eye opener and things that I hadn’t necessarily considered :

  • On arrival, going through a turnstile can be busy and Nigel felt overwhelmed, especially when other people in the queue behind him were impatient as he struggled to communicate what it was he wanted.  This caused him to get frustrated and, occasionally, angry.
  • Everything about going out can be daunting for a person with dementia and it is important for us to be understanding of this.

I learnt of the importance communicating with a person who has been diagnosed with dementia, how to avoid jumping to conclusions about someone’s actions, and managing a conversation.  The importance of using body language in the correct way. 

I would like everyone to know that if you have been diagnosed with dementia or you are a carer for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, please don’t let this put you off enjoying your day out at the Racecourse.  If you let us know in advance of your attendance, we will do our very best to ensure you have a day free from any stresses. 

We are a dementia friendly Racecourse.