IJF 'will find a way' to support riders despite Christmas sales blow
With racing taking place behind closed doors and no sign of spectators returning, the Injured Jockeys Fund has revealed it expects to lose a quarter of its sales revenue this Christmas.
The charity relies on income from racegoers buying diaries, calendars and other branded gifts from volunteer sales staff on course at this time of year.
But that is not possible with coronavirus restrictions severely limiting on-course admissions and IJF chief executive Lisa Hancock said: "It's a blow. It's the first time for 30 years that Lady Oaksey hasn't been selling along with the team and it's a worry for us. We have the online capability but it's not the same as having a face-to-face presence.
"So many supporters who are loyal to us expect to see us at Fakenham, Plumpton and Sedgefield and we're not there. It's a disappointment.
"The amount we sell on course is less than it was because people have been moving online but it's probably still about 25 per cent. That's not just the cash in hand, it's also the opportunity to engage with loyal supporters who want to show their thanks to the team for the work they do."
Off-course fundraising activities have also been curtailed by pandemic restrictions but the IJF is determined to continue to offer support to past and present jockeys.
"We're having to be very sensible," Hancock said. "Luckily the charity has been governed by prudent trustees from the word go but we still have three expensive rehab centres to run and we're still looking after jockeys – and are proud to do so.
"We're also giving grants to a number of beneficiaries, filling their oil tanks and helping them with private operations because the NHS is overloaded.
"That's what we've got to keep doing. We're battening down the hatches in every way possible but not in terms of our welfare expenditure.
"For a period of time we can do that and trustees are committed. We're working on future fundraising activities already because Covid is not going to be with us forever."
The sale of IJF facemasks has been an unexpected and welcome source of income and the full range of Christmas gifts is available at https://shop.ijf.org.uk/
"The great thing is that as racing has continued and jockeys have kept getting injured and stable staff have kept falling off we've been there to help them.
"That is the key thing, we're committed to that. We will definitely find a way to make sure we are there, offering the support that we need to."
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