A unique fixture in the British horseracing calendar at which every jockey in every race is female will this year pay tribute to volunteers who supported the NHS and local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VL Aesthetics Ladies Night takes place at Carlisle on Monday 2nd August and is the only raceday of the year in the UK dedicated exclusively to female jockeys. In addition, next week’s fixture will celebrate people who have gone above and beyond to serve the community, with each of the seven races taking place on the night being named after them.
Molly Dingwall, General Manager at Carlisle Racecourse, explained: “VL Aesthetics Ladies Night will be our first fixture at Carlisle where we will able to welcome back racegoers with no restrictions and at maximum capacity since the beginning of 2020.
“On such a unique night in the racing calendar we wanted to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to those who have been the bedrock of our local community during the challenging times we have all endured.
“Huge thanks must also go to our sponsors, VL Aesthetics. The team at VL Aesthetics spent a huge amount of time and effort in coming up with a final list of seven people to honour on Ladies Night. Given that so many people have gone well beyond the call of duty in recent months, this cannot have been an easy task.”
Vanessa Brown, director at VL Aesthetics, said: “Ladies Night is always such a fantastic event, and a great opportunity to celebrate women and their achievements - something that is very important to us at VL Aesthetics every day of the year, as well as race night.
“This year, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the amazing work and selflessness that has been shown by local women throughout the pandemic and to give something back.
“There were so many people who deserved this - it was a hard decision to make - but we’ve now named the races after each of our local heroes, and we’ve offered them two free tickets each to come along and enjoy the evening as a small token of our appreciation for all they have done.”
Tickets for VL Aesthetics Ladies Night, which will feature a DJ set from Radio 1’s Scott Mills after racing, start from just £15. It is recommended to book tickets in advance and tickets are available online at https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/carlisle/events-tickets/ladies-night
Gates open at 3.25pm and there are some valuable prizes up for grabs with the Best Dressed Female and Best Dressed Male competitions.
The six women who will each have a race run in their name are:
Lesley Maxwell – Lesley co-ordinated a list of around 70 vulnerable people in Kirkbride to arrange support during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also organised afternoon tea parcels to around 120 residents for VE Day. A bedrock of the local community, Lesley was praised in her nomination for her selfless devotion to the wellbeing of others.
Shona Cunningham – Shona worked tirelessly during the pandemic for all key workers, including NHS staff, during the pandemic. Shona raised more than £20,000 for the NHS and also delivered care packages, all while she continued to work full-time at Sellafield.
Ann Ford – Carlisle-based Ann runs Period Poverty North Cumbria, a local organisation supporting people in accessing period products. She was invited to attend Her Majesty the Queen’s tea party at Buckingham Palace as a result of her fantastic work in the community. She is also a recipient of Cumbria County Council’s excellence award for her volunteering.
Leona Hull - Leona, with the help of her brother Frankie, supplied hospital staff with PPE during the pandemic as well as raising funds for local hospices. Leona, who works at McVities, supplied toiletries to hospital staff, donating Easter eggs to the staff and patients at Cumberland Infirmary and elsewhere. The Hull siblings really went above and beyond to support the community during the pandemic.
Deborah Earl – Deborah has been a local councillor since 2013 and has gone several extra miles to support her community during the pandemic. Having volunteered at the Old Hall Cafe in Carlisle to supply meals to students so that they could still have nutritious meals even when the schools were closed, she is now also the chief executive officer of Carlisle Key, an organisation which works with young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Pam Eland - Pam is the service manager of Pride in North Cumbria, a charity providing social and support services for the LGBT+ community aged 13-25. She is also the organiser of Cumbria Pride and has worked tirelessly to help and support young people locally, raising awareness about issues affecting the LGBT+ community.
As well as the six local women, PC Abbasuddin Ahmed of Greater Manchester Police, who tragically lost his life to coronavirus, will have a race run in his memory.
PC Abbasuddin Ahmed – Popularly known as Abbas or Abs, PC Abbasuddin Ahmed tragically lost his life to coronavirus in January at the age of just 40. The married father of two was a serving officer on the Trafford district for Greater Manchester Police (GMP). Following his death, a tribute shared by GMP said PC Ahmed "lived up to his name meaning 'lion' - brave, loyal, a fighter, protective, and completely fearless".
Vanessa Brown added: “PC Abbasuddin may not be a local woman, but he signifies not only those who have lost their lives during the pandemic but those who dedicate their lives to helping others. His wife will be attending Ladies Night as my guest, so we wanted to share his story and his name in honour of all he achieved.”