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    There are a lot of good things about remembering Sir Peter O'Sullevan, the "Voice of Racing."
There are a lot of good things about remembering Sir Peter O'Sullevan, the "Voice of Racing."
Peter O'Sullevan. Source: Daily Mail

There are a lot of good things about remembering Sir Peter O'Sullevan, the "Voice of Racing."

As horse racing enthusiasts, we often find ourselves reminiscing about the remarkable moments in the sport's history. One individual who frequently comes to mind is Sir Peter O'Sullevan, whose legacy is particularly evoked during this season, spanning from Cheltenham to Aintree. Now is the moment to consider the legendary horses like Dawn Run or Arkle and the unforgettable atmosphere at Liverpool, which had an incredible reception that left everyone in awe.

Now is a great time to appreciate the positive impact made in the commentator's honour through the charitable organisation established upon his retirement in 1997. The Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust was initially created to generate funds for six charities that he held in high regard. This was primarily accomplished through an extravagant lunch and auction held annually in December. During this event, he would present an award to an individual who had excelled in the realm of horse racing.

Believe it or not, it has been a whole nine years since Sir Peter departed this world at the remarkable age of 97. By that time, his Trust reaped the rewards of the substantial fortune he bequeathed, the results of a lifetime of astute investments in various ventures, including the racecourse.

"The directive given to the trustees was to ensure that this funding was not limited to the initial six charitable organisations, but rather to be distributed throughout the racing sector, benefiting both animals and individuals involved in animal-related work," explains Nigel Payne, a long-standing administrator of the Trust. "He had a particular preference for us to avoid solely utilising the funds acquired through investments, instead emphasising the utilisation of the principal." He advised utilising it to its fullest potential."

Over the years, numerous organisations have greatly benefited from this, including the Injured Jockeys Fund. In fact, in 2019, they even honoured Sir Peter by naming their Newmarket centre after him. In just the past year, Racing To School, the British Racing School, the Lambourn Open Day, and the National Horse Racing Museum, along with several aftercare centres for retired racehorses, have all received significant support.

Centres providing Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) have received substantial funding. This emerging sector, backed by Payne, holds great potential as a valuable source of post-racing jobs for racehorses. "Thoroughbreds are emerging as the top choice for equine therapy," he states.

"People have always presumed they would be agitated." However, these individuals are highly trained and possess exceptional intelligence, enabling them to excel in this specific area of expertise." The O'Sullivan Trust played a crucial role in the establishment of HEIR, a certification system for EAT centres that the Front Runner has previously covered.

When evaluating a new application, the trustees pondered two key factors: the alignment with Sir Peter's values and the potential to establish a lasting tribute to his legacy. As a result, that name is now found in numerous locations related to horses. "There are numerous barriers and partitions and farm rooftops adorned with Peter's name," Payne remarks.

He believes that approximately £15m has been distributed since Sir Peter's passing, a remarkable amount. By the conclusion of the upcoming year, it is anticipated that the exceptional individual's impact will have been fully acknowledged and honoured.

However, this does not signify the Trust's demise. Instead, it will resume the tasks it was engaged in. At the same time, he was alive, which involved coordinating a yearly lunch and generating donations for his preferred non-profit organisations: World Horse Welfare, Racing Welfare, the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre, Compassion In World Farming, the Blue Cross charity for pets, and the Brooke charity for working horses and donkeys. It seems that the auction consistently produces results exceeding £200,000 every Christmas.

"I must say, this has truly been an extraordinary and unforgettable experience," expresses Payne. "Donating £1,000 to an organisation can have a significant impact on someone's life, potentially equivalent to £1 million for someone else." It's fantastic to receive responses from specific individuals. A few individuals express their gratitude by stating: 'You have rescued us.'

"I'm delighted for Peter. He would be thrilled to know that his funds had been utilised effectively and had made a significant positive impact.

"Peter frequently paused and generously handed a £10 bill to individuals inquiring on the sidewalk." He was an exceptional philanthropist. He saved some money from his betting endeavours, as we all know, but when it came to being generous to others, he was truly remarkable."

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