by Polly Portwin

The chairman of the Cheltenham Countryside Race Day committee has retired after helping to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Countryside Alliance and numerous other nominated charities.

Bobby Burnett, who has served as chairman for eight years, has been on the committee for 19 years, playing a vital part in the success of this annual gathering of the Countryside Alliance family. Mr Burnett will remain on the committee to support his successor, Christopher Hodgson.

“As chairman of the Countryside Race Day committee, Bobby has been a wonderful ambassador for an event which has raised significant funds for the Countryside Alliance and other charities through the incredibly well-attended lunch and auctions organised throughout his tenure,” said Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance. “We thank Bobby for his commitment and for continuing to lend his support to the committee as we welcome Christopher into his new role.”

Bobby Burnett said: "Over many years I have been fortunate to chair a committee which has included people dedicated to the survival of our countryside and to raising the money that helps the Countryside Alliance carry out its well-publicised activities as well as the constant day to day lobbying of ministers and members of parliament – an activity that is vital but not always properly recognised."

He continued: "A massive thank you to the members of the committee and I also thank all the generous donors of auction items plus the equally generous bidders and sponsors, as well as The Jockey Club and Cheltenham Racecourse from whom we have had fantastic financial and facility support."

Incoming chairman, Christopher Hodgson, who will be heading the committee ahead of this year’s event on Friday, 11th November, said: “Having been on the Board at Cheltenham for over 20 years and had involvement with the Countryside Race Day throughout that period, I am delighted to be working with the Countryside Alliance to raise funds for all that they do, together with the charities nominated annually by Cheltenham. The Racecourse has been and remains immensely supportive of Countryside Day.”

As well as fundraising for the Countryside Alliance, the political campaigning force that promotes and protects the rural way of life, the 2021 Countryside Day raised funds for the HELP appeal for the County Air Ambulance Trust. A donation of over £62,000 was recently donated to the charity from the proceeds of the day.

Michael Henriques, chairman of the County Air Ambulance Trust praised the hard work of the retiring chairman and all those associated with Countryside Day: “We have been joint charity on two occasions under Bobby’s chairmanship and The Help Appeal is so grateful to have received over £100,000 towards its life saving work with the Air Ambulance Services. Bobby has been a hugely successful and diligent chairman who will be a hard act to follow and we wish him a very happy retirement.”

Over the years, other charities which have benefitted from the Countryside Race Day include Riding for the Disabled, Equestrian Team GBR and Racing Welfare.

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