The American financial press proliferates in its stories of the big-hearted benefactors among the rich and famous. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg and our own Patrice Motsepe have given away huge chunks of their personal fortunes to charitable foundations. There’s a largely unsung hero however in a world which gets far too little credit for what it does for charity, a point I’ve been at pains to make many times following auctions in aid of the disadvantaged, the needy or the disabled over the years.
As a young man growing up in our game, I was always amazed at the remarkable generosity of people like Graham Beck, Laurie Jaffee, Cyril Hurwitz and many others, and that remains a trademark wherever racing people gather and put their hands into their pockets. You need only talk to the likes of Paul Lafferty who, when he was diagnosed with what appeared to be a life-threatening cancer, was the beneficiary of well over a million rand in donations from the racing community, and while it’s true that Paul reaped what he has sown as one of our sport’s great characters, we’d all have to conceded that by any measure, this was still a staggering response.
While it’s all part of the revelation you’ll come by on visiting the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it has not been their custom to stand on the rooftops proclaiming their generosity. In some respects, for an industry populated by so many of the world’s wealthiest, it’s a pity the HKJC has not been more forthcoming in advertising the work they do in the charitable realm, so the announcement that they are the first Asian charity donor to be listed in the Top Ten of the World Charity Index is a welcome statement for racing.
The HKJC made HK$3.87 billion (R8.07billion) in charitable contributions in 2014/15, supporting 189 charitable and community projects. projects. I have no idea what the annual revenues of the national Treasury amount to, but I doubt they will exceed this figure by much and certainly, given the state of the local economy and the country’s coffers, wouldn’t we all pray for a racing body capable of generating this sort of largesse.
“Globally the Club was ranked sixth in The World Charity Index 2015, and the Club is also the world’s second biggest fundraising private charity donor,” said HKJC Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. “This is the first time an Asian foundation has made it into the top 10. The Club, together with people of Hong Kong, has achieved this international recognition, it is a joint effort. As Hong Kong’s largest community benefactor, the Club is committed to giving back to society,” he added. “We shall continue to seek out the root causes of social issues, and work in partnership with government and the community to help resolve them.”
Of course, while our local turnovers are nowhere near sufficient to raise much of a sweat for those of the HKJC, with a bit of imagination on the part of government and a wagering dispensation that renders all players in the gambling business on a level playing field, who knows what racing could achieve not only in extending it’s already generous support of charity, but especially in the field of job creation, which has to be the nation’s most-pressing challenge at present.