You bet historical Royal Gardens get kingsize makeover

13th June 2016

William Hill support National Volunteers Week by helping to clear the garden at Palace House, the new National Heritage Centre of Horseracing & Sporting Art, set to open this autumn.image2

As part of National Volunteering Week, a group of colleagues from bookmakers William Hill gave up their time to tidy up the garden area in the Palace House Gardens in Newmarket town centre on Friday 3rd June. Palace House is the remaining building of Charles II's racing palace and will form a part of a new heritage centre opening in the autumn. The volunteers from William Hill travelled from as far as Kent to lend a hand in the historic 320 square metre royal walled gardens. The enthusiastic group worked from 10.00am until 4.00pm and made some fantastic progress on the garden in preparation for the grand opening later this year.

The William Hill colleagues were volunteering as part of the company's Close to HOME community initiative which supports colleagues who want to help causes in their local communities. This initiative was set up by William Hill CEO James Henderson, as a new approach for the company getting involved in community engagement. The affiliation with Newmarket through horseracing and the local shops made it an obvious place to offer their support. Bill South, Group Director of Security and Community Affairs said, "Having the opportunity to be able to come and do some work in the Palace gardens has been a fantastic opportunity for employees of William Hill. To come and play a small part in such an exciting project which will in turn become a wonderful venue for the local community has been a brilliant experience."

Palace-house-gardensHazel Courtley, Volunteer Co-ordinator for Palace House, said "We really enjoyed working with the volunteers from William Hill and they did a fantastic job helping to clear the gardens at Palace House. It would be great to build on this link in the future."

Involving volunteers is hugely important for the success of the new Heritage Centre: increasing its capacity and strengthening links with local communities. The new volunteering programme at the National Horseracing Museum has been running for just over a year now and over 80 people have already been involved in volunteer projects such as:

  • Cleaning, documenting and packing objects ready to move to Palace House
  • Helping with events and activities for schools and familiesimage3
  • Promoting the new Heritage Centre through social media, leaflets and talks
  • Donating over 3,500 hours between them.

The volunteering programme at the National Heritage Centre will continue to expand to include new roles such as gardening; meeting and greeting visitors; and helping people to engage with the new displays.
We greatly value the support of our volunteers who find that volunteering is a great way to meet new people, gain new skills and make a difference to the local community and as part of National Volunteers week would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped over the years.

Notes for editors:

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art
The National Horseracing Museum is currently involved in a major capital project which will see it move to the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art on the Palace House site in Newmarket. The centre is expected to open in the Autumn of 2016 and will comprise a new National Horseracing Museum which will be housed in the old trainers house (once occupied by the youngest Grand National winning jockey Bruce Hobbs) and in the old Kings Yard, The Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art a national gallery of Sporting Art in a sporting palace and a live horse experience in the Rothschild Yard, which will be occupied by retrained and retired racehorses to act as a flagship home for the Retraining of Racehorses Charity

The National Horseracing Museum was opened to the public by its patron Her Majesty the Queen in 1983 and holds a nationally and internationally significant collection of fine and decorative art, social history objects, archive material and photographs relating to the history and science of racehorses and to the people and places connected with the sport and industry of horseracing. The NHRM is a registered charity and operates independently of the government, local authority and racing industry. It relies wholly on income from ticket admissions, sponsorship, donations and trading through its café and shop.

Close to HOME is William Hill's community commitment which supports colleagues across the business in the 9 international locations where the company are based. The initiative was launched in 2015 by CEO James Henderson, to support 3 key areas in the local communities where colleagues live and work; providing opportunities through Sport, supporting the local environment and promoting Skills and Opportunities for young people. Since then community projects carried out by colleagues have been taking place across the UK, as well as an International Community Day the company hosted in March this year. The company have also supported major national campaigns, such as the Bobby Moore Fund’s Football Shirt Friday, where colleagues across the UK & Gibraltar wore football shirts to work to raise £20,000 for bowel cancer research.