Last March he fainted twice at his home in Hungerford, and tests subsequently showed that at the time he had an enlarged heart, caused by a virus. But it was not possible to rule out a seizure and so his driving licence was withdrawn, and following that so was his rider’s licence. That meant no job, no work, and no income. Without his riding licence, Drowne was uninsured, and so could not even do any work riding.
Although he soon recovered, it has taken 11 months and the intervention of local MP Claire Perry to convince the DVLA that Drowne is fit to drive. He said, “Things were so bad that I didn't know where to turn. It reached the point where I began to wonder if I'd ever get my licence back. The hardest part has been knowing that there has been nothing wrong with me. All that has happened is that I have been tied up in red tape. At times, it left me feeling helpless.”
Only after he had contacted his MP did the DVLA relent, as Drowne explained. “All the evidence showed that I was perfectly fit, but the DVLA wouldn't budge. Trying to persuade them to change their minds has been incredibly frustrating. I'd call every day but was getting nowhere. Eventually, I asked Claire Perry (MP for Devizes) to intervene. She understood my predicament, contacted the DVLA and thanks to her I'm on the road again. Claire was so unhappy with the way the DVLA handled my case that she has made an official complaint.”
Drowne says that without financial support from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund he would have had to sell his house. The IJF has helped in other ways, too, preparing a tailored programme to help him keep fit.
Now Drowne faces another battle to remind trainers that he is back on the racing scene and to demonstrate he still has the ability to ride winners. He knows it will take time, but trainers Roger Charlton and Hughie Morrison have said they will use him on their horses. Drowne said, “It may take me six months to get going. I’m going to need a bit of luck to get on a really nice horse. Even so, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be riding again.”