Keely Hodgkinson switches her sights to a different track!

Olympic hero Keely Hodgkinson helped to give five local children with serious illnesses a day to remember at the races at Aintree.
Keely Hodgkinson, Barrie Wells and guests in the winners’ enclosure at Aintree on SaturdayKeely Hodgkinson, Barrie Wells and guests in the winners’ enclosure at Aintree on Saturday
Keely Hodgkinson, Barrie Wells and guests in the winners’ enclosure at Aintree on Saturday

The children were guests of both the Jockey Club and the charity Box4Kids, which was the brainchild of the millionaire businessman Barrie Wells.

The day saw the children treated to a VIP experience, which included handing out the prizes to the winning connections of one of the races.

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Since beginning with a box at Liverpool FC in 2008, Box4Kids has gone from strength to strength and welcomed its 2,000th child at Jockey Club events alone last Saturday afternoon.

And Wells was full of praise for the support from the Jockey Club.

He said: “The relationship with the Jockey Club is the strongest one we’ve got. It started in 2015 with a box at Aintree and the Jockey Club loved it. They have 14 courses and give us 60 boxes a year.

“It’s a great day out for the families, it includes all the food and drink, a jockey comes up to the box, the kids can wear the silks, present the prizes, pick out the best turned out horse and all these things make it an incredible experience.”

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Also on hand to greet the children was the Olympic 800m silver medallist Hodgkinson, who is sponsored by Wells and was having her first ever day at the races.

She said: “This is a first time experience for me as I’ve never been to a racecourse before and it’s absolutely lovely.

"Barrie’s charity does amazing things and it’s really nice to see the kids enjoying themselves in this environment, it’s a VIP experience for them and it’s really nice to be a part of it.”

Hodgkinson enjoyed a year to remember on the track, becoming European indoor champion at 800m in Poland in March before going to seal a silver medal at the Olympics in Tokyo - smashing Dame Kelly Holmes’ British record time in the process.

And Wells, who stepped

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in to fund Hodgkinson at the beginning of the year when she was overlooked by the governing body, was full of pride when reflecting on the past 12 months.

He said: “I started sponsoring Keely literally at the turn of the year after UK Athletics didn’t recognise how great she was going to be.

“I just thought that I’d give her the exact same money she’d have got from National Lottery funding.

"I’ve then supported her by sending her and her coach to Florida to train and I managed to persuade UK Athletics to invite her coach Trevor Painter to Tokyo as he’s a key part of the relationship and she of course went on to win the silver medal.

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“She’s such a wonderfully self-confident individual and just has real belief in her own ability.

"I was expecting her to finish in the top four or five in Tokyo which nobody else would believe as she was the youngest member of the team, so for her to win a medal was just unbelievable.”

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