Category Archives: Redcar

War veteran Joyce, 97, is guest of honour on Redcar’s day for heroes

A 97-year-old former cook, who became one of the first women to land at Normandy after D-Day, is to be guest of honour as a North-East racecourse salutes the country’s war heroes.

Joyce Dowding will receive VIP treatment at the 1940s Revival Day at Redcar Races on Sunday, July 21, in support of the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.

Joyce, who was born in Redcar and still lives locally, said it would be “a great honour” to be part of an occasion marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

In 1940, at the age of 18, Joyce was conscripted into the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI), catering for servicemen in combat zones.

She volunteered for special work building up to an unspecified operation and was billeted at a secret camp in a Hampshire forest, not knowing she was helping prepare men for the largest seaborne invasion in history.

After the D-Day landings on June 6 1944, she answered another call for volunteers to help the Liberation Army, and became the only Northern Command member of the NAAFI aboard a hospital ship bound for France.

She landed on Arromanches beach and served in Caen before going on to Ypres, where she was stationed on VE Day. She continued to serve in Germany for five years after the war before returning home to work as a nursery nurse.

“It was quite frightening when we landed in France because we had to climb down a rope ladder and it kept swinging away from the ship,” she recalled. “But I was just proud to have been able to do something to help.”

Joyce has only ever been to the races twice before but says the 1940s Revival Day is an important event. “It’s good of Redcar Races to remember what people did in the war, and to support the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.”

Joyce will be treated to lunch on the day and be invited to present the trophy after the Help for Heroes and Royal British Legion Classified Claiming Stakes.

Redcar’s general manager Amy Fair said: “It will be a privilege to have Joyce as our guest of honour. Throughout the war, she prepared countless meals for servicemen in the midst of war – now it’s her turn to be treated to lunch and recognised for her dedicated service to this country.”

A parade will be held on the racecourse, led by Eric Howden, chairman of the Redcar branch of the Royal British Legion, and there will be displays of wartime history and vehicles from the Middleton St George Memorial Association and Sedgefield Veterans Association.

Nostalgic music will be performed by The Fenner Sisters, and a “Best Revival Outfit” competition takes place after the fifth race.

There will be plenty of free fun for children, including a camouflage boot camp, Cleveland Cadets’ climbing wall, bouncy castles and face-painter.

The meeting is the second day of the SkyBet Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival and under-18s, accompanied by an adult, go free. Gates open at 11am and the first race is at 2.20pm.

Redcar leads race to be UK’s most bee-friendly racecourse

THE North-East is creating a real buzz in sporting circles by staking a claim to have the UK’s most bee-friendly racecourse.

Redcar Racecourse is backing the environment by becoming home to eight beehives and hopes to get onto a winner with its own brand of honey.

The hives were established by passionate beekeeper Dave Metcalfe, whose business relationship with the seaside racecourse has blossomed over 20 years.

Father-of-three Dave, 64, owned Wilton Signs, which had a contract to produce the signs around the racecourse.

After selling the business, Dave approached the racecourse with a plan to turn a plot of land behind the stands into a bee-friendly corner.

To his surprise, Redcar’s management gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up and the hives were moved onto the racecourse site six weeks ago.

“I think it’s great that a racecourse like Redcar had the foresight to say ‘yes’ and it’s gone really well so far,” said Dave, who was speaking during Bees’ Needs Week. “They had the spare land and I wanted somewhere to develop my hobby, so it made sense.”

The plan now is to have up to 15 hives, grow a wildflower meadow, and increase honey production.

There are approximately 170,000 bees on the site and Dave expects them to produce around 60 jars of honey this year. Initial sales will be to friends but, as the operation grows, Dave plans to target farmers’ markets with profits being used to make the business self-sustainable.

Amy Fair, Redcar’s general manager, said: “We have gorgeous gardens and lots of pollinating plants, so we were delighted when Dave came along with the idea because it fits perfectly with our aim to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. Bees are fundamental to the ecology and we want to play our part in protecting them.”

Father-of-three Dave, who lives near the racecourse, first became interested in beekeeping while serving in the Army as a young man. He is a member of both the British Beekeepers Association and the Cleveland Beekeepers Association, known as Tees Bees.

“I’m fascinated by the way bees communicate and work together,” he said. “They are one of the most important pollinators, but they are under threat because of modern farming practices and climate change. If we lose pollinators, we lose food production and that threatens the biggest race of all – the human race.”

  • To find out more about the Cleveland Beekeepers Association, go to



To celebrate Bees’ Needs Week, which runs until July 14, we’ve come up with our own line-up of racehorses with connections to bees. We’d love to hear of other suggestions.

  1. BEE FRIENDLY (Champion Sprinter of Europe in the 1960s, owned by Sir Peter O’Sullivan)
  2. BEESWING (Winner of the 1842 Ascot Gold Cup and winner of 51 races)
  3. S.BEE (Grand National winner 1956)
  4. SAVE THE BEES (Trained in North Yorkshire by Declan Carroll to win at Redcar in 2017)
  5. BEE BEE BEE (Won The Preakness Stakes in America in 1972)
  6. DEE EX BEE (Trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston to be fourth in last year’s St Leger and an Ascot winner this year)
  7. DEANO’S BEE-NO (Trained by Martin Pipe, one of racing’s top staying hurdlers)
  8. ROYAL BEEKEEPER (Dual winner trained by Dan Skelton)
  9. HONEY END (Unlucky runner-up when favourite in Foinavon’s legendary Grand National in 1967)

Former MP joins racecourse board

A FORMER MP with experience in North-East industry has joined the board of his local racecourse.

Ian Swales has spoken of his pride and excitement at becoming a director of Redcar Racecourse, having served the town as MP between 2010 and 2015.

Mr Swales is originally from Leeds but moved to Redcar in 1978 to work in finance and business development for ICI.

He said: “When I became MP, my first staff Christmas do was at the racecourse and I’ve been a regular visitor over the years. I got to know the directors and I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to join the board.

“The racecourse is so important to the local community, it’s the green lungs of the town, and brings so many people in from elsewhere. I want to play my full part in helping it prosper.

“Apart from the obvious attractions of racedays, the local community shouldn’t underestimate the facilities at the racecourse and make use of them all year round.”

Mr Swales, a qualified accountant, has experience at board level within ICI and, after retiring as MP, served for three years as non-executive chairman of the North East Process Industry Cluster. He is also a director of Sirius Minerals Foundation Ltd, and chair of the children’s mental health charity, The Link Tees Valley Ltd.

Redcar racecourse chairman John Sanderson said: “Ian brings invaluable experience and connections from his time as Redcar’s MP and working at a high level in local industry. He will add huge value to our board, and we are thrilled he has joined us.”