IJF president John Francome: ‘the charity is here to help riders get back on track’ *H&H VIP*

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  • The Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and I’m thrilled that the charity has formed an association with Horse & Hound — a brand even more established than our own.

    The late Lord Oaksey was the racing reporter — known as Audax — for the magazine for nearly 30 years and he would have been particularly proud to hear the news that the charity he founded is to be supported in 2016 as H&H‘s charity of the year.

    When the IJF was set up in 1964 — to help injured jockeys Paddy Farrell and Tim Brookshaw — never in a million years would they have expected it to have grown to such a size.

    IJF-button-border-finalThe founders had a whip round to raise some money for those two, and half a century later the IJF has helped more than 1,000 jockeys.

    The IJF now has two fantastic rehabilitation centres, Oaksey House in Lambourn as well as Jack Berry House in Malton, which opened this year.

    Both provide excellent care for jockeys, and now also other riders, including Kitty King and Laura Collett, both of whom H&H speak to in 31 December’s magazine.

    For anyone who wants to recover quickly the centres are an excellent facility — we have anti-gravity treadmill and hydrotherapy pools.

    Noel Fehily says in the current issue that the IJF has helped racing advance, and I believe it’s now even ahead of other professional sports.

    There are so many different things available to young jockeys now that weren’t around in my day – fitness coaches, nutritionists and training.

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    It’s fantastic that the charity is so well-known now too. There have been remarkable cases recently, such as lsabell Tompsett who was back on a horse this year after a fall in 2011 that left her in a coma, and Brian Toomey, who in 2015 regained his jockey’s licence after being given only a 3% survival.

    Chris Kinane was kicked in the head at Wolverhampton more than 10 years ago and the IJF has been helping him ever since. I went to visit him recently and his progress was a joy to see, he is now able to speak and interact, something he wasn’t able to do two years ago.

    It’s not just about rehabilitating physical injuries though — the charity is also here to help jockeys get back on track in life.

    One ex-jockey had come off the rails and an almoner went to visit. She filled up his car with petrol, bought him new tyres and filled up his fridge. He’s since found a job and paid it all back, but that’s what it’s about, making life easier for people and helping whatever the issue.

    As president I’m just the front man — the heroes are the almoners, John and Jackie Porter who run Oaksey House, Lord Oaksey, Jack Berry all those people that put in so much hard work every day.

    Happy new year to all, I urge you to support the IJF’s initiatives and follow it through H&H in 2016 — I couldn’t recommend the charity more.

    John Francome

    Injured Jockeys Fund president

    For a behind the scenes look at Oaksey House, plus interviews with Kitty King, Aaron Miller, Noel Fehily and Laura Collett — who have all been helped by the IJF — don’t miss this week’s issue, out today (Thursday, 31 December)