FIVE MINUTES WITH: Stephen Woad, or Squire, who talks all things Doncaster Racecourse
Doncaster born and bred Stephen Woad is affectionately known as '˜Squire' at Doncaster Racecourse thanks to his bright socks, checked shirts an colourful handkerchiefs.
The 81 year old, who was born just a ten minute walk from the racecourse, was given the name ‘squire’ by the team who would eagerly await his arrival to see just how bright his attire would be that day and the name has stuck.
Here he tells his of love of the racecourse and why for him it is a wonderful life!
“I was born in a house just a ten minute walk from the Racecourse and I have always lived within shouting distance of it.
In fact, I have spent much of my leisure time walking the course with my dogs.
I have always loved racing and when I retired from my career in I.T. I was fortunate enough to acquire a job with a rails bookmaker. I worked with him as his clerk for a number of years, working on many of the principle racecourses in the country.
After a while I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Ground Staff at Doncaster Racecourse with responsibility for creating and maintaining the floral displays that decorate the enclosures and grandstands.
Having always enjoyed gardening this job gave me an opportunity to use flower beds and hanging baskets to create a pleasant environment for visiting race goers to enjoy.
I worked as Racecourse Gardener on a full time basis for three years, and then I became a member of the part time casual staff, attending as required during busy times.
My next appointment was as driver to the starters on race days. I greatly enjoyed this job.
It enabled me to appreciate the courage and skill of the jockeys and stalls teams and to experience at close quarters the excitement of the starting procedures.
After a while I was offered the role that I currently hold, that of Declarations Clerk. This post sees me positioned in the Weighing Room which, on a race day, is the nerve centre of the racecourse.
The weighing room houses the stewards of the meeting, the stipendiary stewards and their secretary, the Clerk of the Scales, the Judge, the Public Address Announcer and facilities for the jockeys and their valets.
The conduct and control of each race day is under the management of the Clerk of the Course. He is responsible for ensuring that the race meeting is conducted on time and in strict accordance with the Rules of Racing.
To assist him in this very onerous task he is supported by a number of staff of whom I am one. The Rules of Racing require that a number of services, and their providers, are available on course before a race meeting may take place. These include Doctors, Nurses, and Physiotherapists together with Ambulance services.
On a race day all medical and veterinary staff sign in with me upon arrival at the racecourse, this ensures that the welfare provision is in place for all participating, this has always, and will continue to be, important to me.
I am responsible for ensuring that all these facilities are present on the Racecourse at least one hour before the scheduled time of the first race and to report to the Clerk of the Course that that is the case.
The Declarations Clerk is required to confirm that the Horses listed in the Racecard are present and available to run in the races for which they have been entered.
My job puts me in close contact with well-known figures in the world of racing and, sometimes celebrities from all walks of life.
My love of racing is shared by all my family. My wife loves a day at the races, my son is a regular racegoer and my daughter made racing her career. She travelled to America and was for some years an exercise rider at Santa Anita Park Racecourse near Los Angeles.
So from being pushed around the Racecourse as a baby in a pram, to walking the course each day with my dogs I eventually had the good fortune to become a proud member of the staff.
I have enjoyed so many happy times with a wonderful team of people who work so hard to make Doncaster Racecourse such a happy and welcoming place for all those who have the good fortune to enjoy the racing and all the other events that are promoted there.
The Racing Fraternity provides a special world within the world, I am so lucky to have been a part of it all and to meet so many wonderful people along the way.
For further information about Doncaster Racecourse visit Doncaster Racecourse