CHURCH members in Ryedale are reaching out to a new area of the local community.

The Churches in Southern Ryedale is exploring chaplaincy in the racing industry after realising an important part of the region's economy was not being catered for in the existing structure.

Chairman Peter Clark said at their recent AGM members had discussed ways of working with people outside the churches themselves.

"Those involved in racing can appear to outsiders as a closed community, even with its own language," he added.

" In this kind of ‘hot house’ environment with all its pressures, personal problems are magnified and and more difficult to deal with."

Mr Clark said a working group had been set up look at the provision of chaplaincy support to the Ryedale horse-racing industry.

"It is all about contact with people and making them award that the church is here and we are happy to offer support when it is needed," he added.

"We are there on their terms to talk and provide another avenue for those who may have suffered injury , dealing with drug or alcohol issues or feeling isolated and vulnerable as they move away from home for the first time."

A well as meeting trainers, stable lads and lasses, the representatives of the the churches, including Methodist, Anglican and Roman Catholic, had received the advice and support of Sports Chaplaincy UK, the National Chaplaincy to Horseracing, based in Newmarket and Racing Welfare, the nationwide charity which looks after stable staff’s needs.

They had also spoken to the York Racecourse Chaplaincy, several clerks to the courses in Yorkshire and workers in different churches.

Mr Clark said: "Some ‘church people’ have begun a steep learning curve – going to race meetings and being present on the gallops to find out more about this way of life, seemingly so glamorous but less so for some who work in the industry.

"Specialist sports training courses are to be undertaken by suitable candidates with particular reference to horse racing and other people are welcome to volunteer as support to the initiative."

Mr Clark said members would be working alongside Malton and Norton District Lions at the Malton Racing Association open day on Sunday, August, 31.

"This initiative is still in its infancy and is all about building confidence," he added.

"But we have had an encouraging start which we hope to work on in the coming months to get this unique undertaking off the ground and up and galloping," he added.

For information contact Peter Clark 01653 691589 or email