Jan 24, 2018
Fast fact…Snowden Racing-trained horses, and staff are given a blessing each year by Reverend Colin Watts and Brother Dan Stafford of the Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy!
Read on as we learn more about one of racing’s unsung heroes Colin Watts and his important role within the industry and helping those in need.
As a full-time chaplain of the Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy (ARCC), what type of work do you do Colin with the racing community and how does it benefit the community?
The chaplain’s role is primarily a welfare role, providing physical, emotional and spiritual support to those in need in the racing fraternity. This might involve visiting those who are sick, injured, or grieving, or it may be as simple as a listening ear for somebody who just needs someone to talk to.
I suppose it is rather similar to counselling, but much more relational and informal. At the formal level, we also assist with various ceremonies such as memorials, funerals, baptisms and weddings.
The essence of any form of chaplaincy is to be where people are, and to make yourself available. Therefore, I regularly attend race meetings, trackwork, barrier trials – and pretty much anything else that is happening in racing. Getting to know people and understand the issues they face is crucial, and makes such a difference when critical incidents arise. We are a national organisation so travel Australia-wide too when need be.
Are your services available for the non-religious?
Yes, our services are available free of charge to all in the racing industry irrespective of their religious beliefs or background.
What are some of the issues from your perspective facing the racing community?
Racing, by its very nature, is a high-stress industry. Like any sport, there is the constant pressure to ‘perform’. When you add to that the high level of injuries, the roller-coaster ride of emotions, constant financial pressures and the sheer ‘insistence’ of racing 363 days a year, many find it physically and emotionally draining. It is good to see the industry acknowledging and supporting this more, but there is still a long way to go.
If anyone is in need of help, support or a simple chat, what do they do?
Phone the ARCC line on 02 8090 0256 or just grab me when you see me around.
Your best piece of life advice?
“Hope is the ancho for our soul”. In my own experience, this hope is best founded in my faith in our creator who loves us and has our future in his hands.
What inspired you to work in the religious sector?
I undertook theological training at Moore Theological College in Sydney and during that time I felt that God was calling me into fulltime ministry, so I left the IT industry and became an Anglican minister. I spent over 17 years in parish ministry before taking on the racing chaplaincy in 2009.
How did your love for the thoroughbred industry develop?
My family has been involved in harness racing for over 100 years, so I have been around horses and horse racing (and horse racing people) for as long as I can remember. My knowledge and love of thoroughbred racing has developed through my role as chaplain, particular in getting to know the people behind it.
Saintly, “the horse from heaven”. The excitement of his Melbourne Cup win remains vivid in my memory. I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit him at Princes Farm shortly before he died.
Words: Sarah Peatling and Colin Watts
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