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Smiling Phil Returns to Racecourse After 60 Years

A lifelong horse enthusiast has made a return to his local racecourse more than six decades after his last visit, thanks to the generosity of the local community and the compassion of support workers at his home in Belong Warrington.


Local man Phil Warburton spent the day at Haydock Park Racecourse, enjoying the excitement of each race, the anticipation awaiting bets to come in, and the chance to revel in the atmosphere with fellow racing fans. Accompanied by care village experience coordinator, Louise Kelly, the pair cheered on their horses before taking in the course’s brass band in the spring sunshine and sharing Phil’s favourite brandy tipple.   


Louise Kelly, experience coordinator at Belong Warrington, shares more: “Everyone who knows Phil knows how much he loves his horse racing. He hasn’t been able to attend in-person for some time and a big part of our role is creating happy memories for our residents and helping them achieving their ambitions. So, we reached out to the community and when we surprised him with the tickets, he couldn’t stop smiling!”


Inheriting his love of horses from his parents, a young Phil spent much of his teenage years grooming his favourite animal, admiring their strength and beauty and eventually coming to own his own, Amber Sprite. Due to health ailments resulting from a motorcycle accident, the former carpenter hasn’t been able to return to the landmark racecourse since his last visit in 1963.  


More recently, 76-year-old Phil has become accustomed to watching his favoured pastime on the television at his Latchford home, before his support workers set out to create an extra special day for their resident. Having approached horse racing organisation, The Jockey Club, and transport firm Direct Taxis, their plan for an unforgettable day came to fruition.


Speaking of his experience, Phil said: “The racecourse was very much as I remember but it’s a lot busier now! I’m grateful to Louise for making it all happen and although Lady Luck wasn’t with us, it was a fantastic experience and this beats taking home a prize pot – I won just by being there.”


Louise continued: “Phil has had the most wonderful day and we’re thrilled everything came together for him. Thank you to The Jockey Club, Haydock Park Racecourse, and Direct Taxis for their support. The kindness of our community really is inspiring.”

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