Reaseheath equine students had the privilege of meeting legendary jockey Bob Champion MBE during filming for BBC’s The One Show.
The students, from our Nantwich campus and from our Merseyside partner, Burrows Lane Equestrian Centre, were invited to join the audience for The One Show’s ‘Life Lecture with Bob Champion’.
The event, one of a series in which notable public figures share key lessons from their lives, will form part of a programme to be aired around the date of the Grand National (April 14). The lecture was held at Liverpool’s famous Aintree Racecourse and our enthusiastic equestrians joined other up and coming riders in questioning Bob about the highs and lows of racing.
Bob’s story of courage and endurance hit the headlines when he won the 1981 Grand National winner with Aldaniti. Just two years earlier, at the age of 31 and at the height of his career, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and given eight months to live unless he received revolutionary chemotherapy treatment. Aldaniti had also been brought back to full racing fitness after several injuries. The inspiring story formed the focus of Bob’s autobiography and was subsequently made into a film.
Bob formed the Bob Champion Cancer Trust in 1983 and has funded the Bob Champion Cancer Research Laboratories, part of the largest male dedicated research facility in Europe. Now retired, one of his aims is to encourage young people to get involved in the racing industry and the many opportunities on offer.
During his lecture, Bob described how the industry is one of Britain’s biggest employers, with professions ranging from travelling grooms to specialised vets, farriers, nutritionists and physiotherapists.
On being a jockey he said: “It may not be the best paid job at first, but you get a lot out of it. If you have the ability, you’ll the have the chance. Talent always gets you through. It can be a hard life but it’s fun, and it gave me the best years of my life.”
Asked for his top tip, he replied: “Keep trying and never give up. You’ll be a winner in the end!”
Twelve of our students attended the lecture, with several being selected to ask questions. They were: (Main campus) Rachel Woodacre, Emma Bennett, Selin Gulduren; (Burrows Lane Equestrian Centre) Ellie Beard, Caitlin Bowness, Emily Bridge, Martin Cook, Amy Donnelly, Julie Forster, Daniel Jones, Georgia Littler, Matthew Winrow.
They were accompanied by staff members Jen Nash and Angie Hetherington.
Martin Cook said: “What a great day. We’ve had a fantastic opportunity to meet one of racing’s heroes….and we may even appear on tv!”
Tune in tonight (Wednesday 11th April), BBC One, 7pm – or catch up later on BBC iPlayer.