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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

The Grand National and the launch of the Rose Paterson Trust

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

This week has seen the return of the famous Aintree Festival which was sadly cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

The three-day horse racing event which started on Thursday, features many of the world’s top horses and jockeys with 40 combinations contesting the famous Grand National at 5.15pm today.

There has been much excitement on the yard this week because there were two horses running in the Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters Chase which ran on Thursday afternoon.

The Foxhunters is raced over the Grand National course and is specifically designed for amateur riders. Izzie Marshall who works and rides at the Hill’s yard where I also ride out, had a fantastic ride on Clondaw Westie, who galloped and jumped bravely, taking the huge Aintree fences easily in his stride.

When I arrived at the yard yesterday there was a banner on the gate congratulating both Westie and Izzie who was so thrilled to have completed a childhood dream of riding round the famous course.

Although there will be much excitement associated with the Grand National today, there will also be a touch of sadness as former Aintree Racecourse chairman Rose Paterson is memoralised and remembered through the launch of a charity in her name.

I wrote a post detailing some of this tragic story a couple of months ago, after reading a heart-rending article that was published in The Telegraph on the 29th of January.

Rose’s devastated husband Owen, very sadly recounted how his wife had taken her own life without warning, leaving him and his family not only deeply shocked and saddened but also bewildered and confused.

Like so many others that are profoundly affected by suicide, he is now channelling his grief into raising awareness and instigating the provision of preventative measures in an attempt to spare others of this pain.

It is hoped that the Rose Paterson Trust will help to prevent others from having to experience the devastation caused by losing a loved one to suicide, with Owen saying:

‘If this helps to save one family from the agony of suicide then this initiative will have been worth it’.

Mr Paterson, who is the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and MP for North Shropshire, was interviewed on Thursday before the Foxhunters race which ran in his wife’s name.

He expressed his anguish and heartbreak, urging people to support each other and be as astute as possible, noticing even the slightest of warning signs.

Today the Rose Paterson Trust will be officially launched on the day of the famous race that the former chairman was so passionately involved with.

The trust aims to raise money to support suicide prevention charities, with a particular focus on reducing searches for methods of suicide on the internet. It also plans to campaign to get changes in national policy in a bid to reduce the frequency of suicide.

Suicide prevention charities play a vital role in tackling this problem effectively and to saving lives. I wrote about this in a previous post, after seeing Alice Hendy from Ripple Suicide Prevention on BBC Breakfast News just a couple of weeks ago.

Alice set up ‘Ripple’ after losing her brother Josh to suicide at the end of last year. The aim of the charity is to reduce exposure to harmful online content through advanced technology which intervenes via a keyword search and replaces it with a range of mental health support channels for users in crisis.

It is impossible to fully prevent harmful content from appearing online, which is why Ripple and other charities like it, are so essential to making the internet safer. If we are going to make a difference to the terrible suicide rates that we are currently witnessing, then this has got to be an area of immediate focus.

The problem is that this is only one part of a huge jigsaw of issues that need addressing.

Without effective medications, support programmes, safe places for suicidal people to receive help, education in bucket loads, and huge overhauls and improvements in psychiatric care, we will not even begin to scratch the surface of this complicated and difficult issue.

Having said that, any attempt at raising awareness, money, and increasing education is a fantastic and much needed thing, and I have already donated to Ripple Suicide Prevention because I recognise its immediate importance.

Alice needs to raise £50,000 to build the technology for this life saving tool and is currently crowdfunding on JustGiving.

If you would like to donate to Ripple Suicide Prevention and read Alice and Josh’s story, then you can do so here.

Similarly, if you would like to know more about the Rose Paterson Trust or make a donation then you can find more information and advice on the website which I have also added a link to here.

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


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