Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Come break dancing with us to a 'tropical' Kelso
What an amazing spectacle Cheltenham proved.
From a shop perspective it is second to none, the only thing that can eclipse it in terms of volume of business is Grand National day, but that is but a single day.
Cheltenham offers up four consecutive days of top class trading, pushes us as staff to the limits in dealing with the swelled numbers, but maintaining the same levels of service to both existing and new customers.
I always think it is a marvellous chance to persuade infrequent visitors that betting shops are not the inhospitable gathering places that they were once thought of. I can't remember a busier Cheltenham in Selkirk and fortunately that was also borne out in the figures.
It was really nice to see some familiar faces from the past in seeing what all the fuss has been about locally; winning the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year has caused quite a stir here in our scenic Borders town to the extent the punters are getting sick of seeing my face in the Southern Reporter newspaper.
Billy 'the vest' Mercer claims it is keeping his grandkids safe though so at least some good is coming from it. If that last statement confuses you, well, it did me too. So I tried to seek some sort of explanation without sounding too silly. And when he explained he puts a copy above the mantelpiece so my face scares the grandchildren away from the fire I realised I had been well and truly duped. A great crowd in Selkirk and they won't let this success go to my head.
Having said that we are all getting ready for another fruit from this competition, although not one that came with the official outings. You may remember the kind offer of hospitality I wrote of back in January from my local course, Kelso, and its Managing Director Richard Landale.
We were all disappointed when the first frost of what otherwise has been an incredibly mild winter came and claimed that meeting back on Sunday 15th.
Well, Richard has come good again, rescheduling us for this Saturday and even sticking in a free pie and pint in for good measure.
Scotbet have kindly provided free transportation to and from the track, and to top it all off this Saturday is Kelso's 'Party in the Paddock' meeting, where straight after the last racegoers are treated to live music plus DJs making for a great party atmosphere. With temperatures managing a tropical double figures (yes, 10 degrees!) up here in south eastern Scotland it has all the ingredients for a magical day, and I am glad to say the punters have been most appreciative of Richard's brilliant gesture, to the extent that over 100 of our customers will be making the trip.
Many have the intention of drinking the bar dry, which makes me think strangely of Sophie Ellis-Bexter's early career hit ‘It's murder on the dance floor’. Again, from previous blogs you may recall Brian 'Bones' Hunter and Big Rog's attendance was in serious doubt after a couple of freak festive accidents, in Brian's case earning him the newly extended nickname of 'Broken Bones'.
So it’s great to be able to welcome these guys back into the fold and fingers crossed that the only break we will see this weekend is break dancing . . . but even that should be avoided guys.
As I write this blog late on Monday night I have to go totally off topic and tell you what a fantastic day it has been for me personally. My wee boy, Kris, turned 6 as the sun rose this morning and as this has been my first day off after working eight straight it has been a fabulous day to share with the family.
We had three grannies, two papas including a 'boompy' (Kris’s nickname for Tracy’s dad), as well as aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews round - and all had a wonderful time.
It therefore seems particularly apt that Tracy and myself (along with Kris, thanks again Gill), will spend our 14th anniversary in Meydan at the Dubai World Cup.
After a tragic weekend for football, with the collapse and uncertain future for Fabrice Muamba and the untimely death of Kilmarnock League Cup winner Liam Kelly's father, Jack, who suffered a suspected heart attack in the celebrations as Killie pulled off a major shock by defeating Celtic at Hampden, there is a lot to be grateful for in having your health.
Health and life is the gift that the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Borders General Hospital originally gave to my Kris after a particularly difficult birth so my own family’s thoughts and prayers at this time go out to the families Kelly and Muamba, whilst at the same time being eternally grateful to the staff of that ward a mere ten miles away.
So it gives me great pleasure in telling you all that through the kind gift of this Kelso trip from Richard Landale, and the overwhelming generosity of the punters who will attend, we have already raised £1,000 to go to helping SCBU continue the marvellous work that they do, and that is before any collection that we will be holding on the day. Thank you to one and all who have donated, I hope you are fortunate enough to never see what a tremendous cause you have assisted.
So after Kelso I have Dubai and the following weekend after arriving back from the once in a lifetime trip we will have the BBC's final coverage of the John Smith’s Grand National.
If you had told some people that 2012 would represent the BBC screening its final Grand National they would automatically assume that the Mayans were on to something and that indeed the 'end was nigh'. Not so however and next year will see the end of over 50 years worth of partnership as Channel 4 takes up the mantle as terrestrial TV's sole racing outlet.
There is no lack of experience or expertise from Channel 4 and the deal, on paper at least, seems to secure more funding for racing in the short term anyway. I really hope that the BBC see what they are missing, it has been disappointing to say the least to have their package downsized in previous years and now seemingly having the partnership ended.
Everyone wants what is best for racing, but sometimes short term pain eases the path to long term gain. Having two channels in direct competition is much the same as shops in close vicinity, in theory it keeps standards high as both strive to be the best. Fingers crossed this story pans out well for all involved.