Joanna Wales

In 2020, I lead the operational delivery of Royal Ascot Behind Closed Doors – the first international televised sporting event during a global pandemic.

The handbook for this event became the template for the racing industry operating under Covid safe protocols.

In 2021 Royal Ascot was selected by the DCMS to be part of the Event Research Programme, along with Wimbledon, FA Cup, etc. I led the build and delivery of this “Royal Ascot in miniature” under the watchful gaze of the industry, government and public, both on and off site, whilst still under partial lockdown rules.

I was integral to the concept, design and delivery of The Village Enclosure at Royal Ascot, a festival vibe enclosure holding 10,000 customers; the first new enclosure at Ascot in over 100 years.

As part of my security focus, I changed the customer behavioural profile of racedays by introducing new policies, documents and training for our 1,500 strong event security staff. Researching environmental and behavioural studies on shopping centres, crowded places, riots and Urban centres and implementing these changes into the venue to create a more harmonious atmosphere where people behaved with more respect to each other.

Over the last decade, my creative skills and operational expertise have played a key role, as part of a truly amazing team, in shifting Ascot from a national horse racing venue to an internationally recognised brand.

At work, I set up the Accessibility Working Group to deliver a more user friendly event to those with physical and mental challenges. In the first year we delivered 16 improvements to site creating better experiences for disabled customers. One of these was the introduction of the sunflower lanyard for hidden disabilities with associated training to temporary staff. This initiative was adopted across the racing industry following its success at Ascot.

I also established the Staff Engagement and Motivation Working Group to address the rising deficit in event staff by making Ascot Racecourse a leading place to work for Gig economy staff. Both of these are on-going projects but we have seen rising engagement across both groups of people.

I am a trained Mental Health First Aider as well as a First Aider ensuring that hopefully I can help any people either in work or outside who maybe in a crisis.

At home, I am a mentor for young people helping them into further education, work or training programmes. I work as a career coaching providing interview and CV help with year 11’s.

Volunteering during 2020 lockdown, I ran the driver initiative providing a taxi service for nursing staff to get to their new hospitals; I was a companion to the blind providing phone support during lock down, as well as attempting to contact all 250 of my event staff many of whom were in the vulnerable category as they are over 65. I also oversee the Sebastian’s Action Trust annual event at Ascot, supporting families with terminally ill children with a Christmas party. I might add that I was not furloughed at all during lockdown and was doing this alongside picking up work for the rest of my department, who were.

I am hoping to be accepted as a Samaritans volunteer next year.