Autism in Racing founder Bobby Beevers has spoken of his pride in how the first year has seen the initiative flourish on British racecourses.
Further expansion is planned for 2022 – and given the success of the first experiences, Beevers hopes as word spreads further more and more families will feel confident in coming forward to use the available facilities.
With the help of Racing Together, the sport’s community engagement collective, autism-friendly mobile sensory spaces were in place at Doncaster, Haydock, Musselburgh and Aintree over seven racedays.
“We’ve finished phase one now and we’re close to announcing some dates for next year,” said Beevers.
“We’ve had some amazing feedback from the families this year and from the racecourses who were involved.
“How it works is the families contact us prior to racing, as we do have a cap on numbers so we need to know we won’t be oversubscribed.
“Once a family expresses an interest they can fill a form in with all the information on, and for Aintree there were six or seven families involved. Haydock even had a school involved, Wargrave House, who teach children with autism.
“The hope is the more people hear about it the more people will come forward and want to use it too. I get people coming up to me saying how welcome everybody feels.
“We’re giving families the opportunity to come racing in a safe and supportive environment and we’ve had plenty say they wouldn’t have come racing if this wasn’t in place. In that respect we know what we are doing is helping people. It makes it all worthwhile.”
He added: “This all happened with my daughter, Sophia, being diagnosed as autistic. I was doing this for her as my wife, Rochelle, said was there a way in making racing – and this shouldn’t just apply to racing – more accessible to people across all platforms. It has grown from that.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved, and the way it is going it is only going to get bigger.”