She had ridden in a few charity races 15 years ago but hadn’t sat on a racehorse for over 10 years. So when she was asked to consider putting her name forward for the St. Patrick’s Derby at the Cheltenham Festival last March Clonmel woman Wendy Normile eventually agreed but only after a lot of persuasion.
She took part in the race to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and that struck a chord with Wendy - the daughter of Pat (Patricia) and Alan Normile from Marlfield – as her brother Alan had died from bowel cancer in December 2010.
From over 100 applications to ride in the race she was one of the 12 chosen and her mount Prince of Fire, owned by JP McManus and trained by Charlie Swan, finished third. More importantly she raised more than £53,000 sterling for the charity.
Her fundraising efforts were rewarded last month when Wendy was invited to the Cancer Research UK Thank You Lunch at the House of Lords in London, when she learned that she was one of the highest individual fundraisers for the charity over the last year.
“I was delighted with the invitation. It was a nice reward and a great honour. It was a lovely day and a lovely tribute to Alan”.
Her brother was just 36 when he succumbed to cancer almost two years ago, leaving behind his wife Lucy and their three young children, all of whom were under the age of 7. The couple trained a string of racehorses just outside Perth in Scotland where Lucy continues to train successfully and raise her young family.
“The experience of riding in the St. Patrick’s Derby was amazing and it was a great tribute to Alan, who adored Cheltenham. Although this charity is based in Britain the research undertaken by Cancer Research UK benefits people worldwide as everybody has been touched by cancer in some way”, says Wendy, who lives in Fethard and works as secretary to the manager at the world-famous Coolmore Stud.
Cancer Research UK, which doesn’t receive any Government funding, brings together the world’s leading scientists in their efforts to find a cure for cancer.
In addition to riding in the charity race she organised other fundraisers including a charity auction night in Moyglass and a coffee morning, as well as setting up a donation page on the website Justgiving.com
She had great support from her family, friends, work colleagues in Coolmore and business associates, as well as people she had worked with in the United States 20 years ago.
“People have been so generous. Even the taxi driver who took me to the House of Lords told me to donate the fare to the charity”, she says.
Wendy also had great assistance from trainer Michael Mouse Morris and was allowed to prepare for the race at his Everardsgrange stables in Fethard, where she had worked in the office some years ago.
The lunch at the House of Lords on 19th September was hosted by Lord Evans of Watford. The guest list included 60 people who had supported Cancer Research UK by either organising fundraising events or participating in various activities themselves.
Guests were also addressed by Dr. Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK Chief Executive, who told them that their support had enabled the charity to lead world research in discovering and developing newer, kinder treatments while moving closer to finding a cure for the disease - Cancer Research UK has helped double the survival rate of cancer sufferers in 40 years.
This was followed by a short speech by one of the scientists involved in Cancer Research who gave an update on some cancer treatments and their advancements.