The Injured Jockeys Fund was founded in 1964 as a result of terrible spinal injuries incurred by two jockeys, Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell. The latter fell in the Grand National of ’64 and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, whilst Brookshaw proved medical experts wrong by returning to the saddle and later becoming a successful trainer.
John Oaksey helped establish the charitable foundation, originally known as the Farrell-Brookshaw Fund. Later that year it became the Injured National Hunt Jockeys Fund. In 1971 the charity incorporated Flat racing jockeys and became known simply as the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Lord Oaksey later became its president and very much a figurehead. The Fund has gone on to help over 1000 jockeys and their families, paying out over £17 million in much needed financial assistance. The IJF has a team of people who assess the needs of beneficiaries, ensuring the appropriate help is given. Money may be needed for medical advice and operations; annual holidays; specially adapted cars; or cash support for dependants. Almost 40 volunteers also assist in maintaining contact with the less able or isolated beneficiaries.
Patrons play a vital role in ‘spreading the word’ and thereby raising the public’s awareness of the terrific work undertaken. HRH The Princess Royal is Patron, with Clare Balding, AP McCoy and Peter Scudamore Vice Patrons.
John Francome became President of the IJF after the sad loss of Lord Oaksey in September 2012. Brough Scott, Chairman of the Fund said of Francome’s appointment, “I’ve always been struck by how he does things for other jockeys that often goes unreported. I couldn’t be more thrilled and I know that Lord Oaksey would be too.”
In September 2009 Oaksey House, a state of the art rehabilitation centre was opened. Situated in Lambourn it supports jockeys past and present as well as others involved in the racing industry. Along with rehabilitation facilities, the centre has an academy for apprentice and conditional jockeys. It also has independent living accommodation which is available to retired beneficiaries.
A second centre is currently under construction. Jack Berry, Vice President of the Injured Jockeys Fund is dedicating his time and efforts into the completion of 'Jack Berry House'. The facility, which will be similar to Oaksey House, is being built at Malton in North Yorkshire. The project will hopefully be completed in the spring of 2015.
Whilst this year celebrating its 50th anniversary and continuing to evolve, the IJF retains the core values identified by Lord Oaksey at the very beginning of this memorable journey: “I hope and believe that many will want to help the men whose courage and skill give us so much pleasure. All contributions, great and small will be welcomed.”
Two weeks ago Sarah Gaisford made an emotional return to Exeter racecourse. The former National Hunt jockey was paralysed after a terrible fall at the track in 2007. She was back in the saddle to raise money for the Injured Jockeys Fund. Her bravery was both incredibly touching and inspiring, as she spoke of her appreciation for the support she has received.
“I’m making great progress learning to walk again with a frame, but it’s expensive as I need specialist equipment - like my car which has push-pull controls. Without the IJF helping me pay for that, I would have been completely lost. They’re like a family, and there’s always someone on the end of a phone when I need it. ”
For further information and ways of donating or giving support, visit the IJF website on www.injuredjockeys.co.uk