Brigid Simmonds

The BGC Chairman pays tribute to the nation's ex-Forces community.

As a very proud former Captain in the Women’s Royal Army Corps, it gives me enormous pleasure that the Betting and Gaming Council is sponsoring Veterans Day at Leicester Racecourse, giving us another fantastic opportunity to salute this nation’s special ex-Forces community.

Thanks to the BGC’s support, veterans will today be the guests of honour, treated to food and a drink, plus a wonderful day of racing among friends.

It is the very least we can do for a community that is too often overlooked in our society.

As it happens, I grew up in Leicestershire. My career in the Armed Forces took me to Germany, Hong Kong and the Ministry of Defence in the 1980s and during my eight years I learnt the skills and values that continue to inspire and drive me today.

There are over two million veterans in the UK, many will share similar stories to me, tales of adventure, of teamwork, of service. And the pride of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

I’m proud to say the BGC’s sponsorship of today’s Veterans Day builds on the work we have already done to celebrate veterans.

Last June The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund were gifted more than £400,000 after our members donated all their profits from the flagship Britannia Stakes race, held at Royal Ascot.

It was a fantastic gesture by our members, ensuring some of the nation’s best loved charities received vital funds amidst the pandemic, which we know hit fundraising hard.

This inaugural event is another opportunity for us to give back to the veteran community that has sacrificed so much on behalf of this nation’s security and prosperity.

Investing in people and communities is at the heart of everything the BGC’s does, from our mission to drive up standards to protect customers, right through to celebrating the incredible men and women who work in our industry.

Last December we were able to take stock of all that wonderful work in our Corporate and Social Responsibility report for 2021, which highlighted our sector’s contribution to the UK. Examples included investment in hospitals, medical charities, grassroots sports, the pandemic, diversity and sustainability.

It showed the regulated sector recorded £7.7bn in gross value added to the UK economy, added £2.2bn in treasury taxes and £4.5bn across its supply chain.

Moreover, the sector generated 119,000 jobs – 61,000 directly, 22,000 in Scotland and Northern England, and 15,000 in London – of which 19 per cent were under the age of 25 and 51 per cent under 35.

But it goes much further than jobs and prosperity for the UK – it showcased what our members contributed beyond that.

Highlights included the £10 million donation by the Denise Coates Foundation to University Hospitals of North Midlands and the Entain Foundation’s pledge to invest £100 million worldwide on grassroots sport, responsible gambling, health and community projects.

There were also inspiring employee volunteers like William Hill’s Nick Pearson who set up a PPE equipment production line in his own home during the pandemic, and Kim James whose work to help vulnerable people in Swansea inspired the launch of a national ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ campaign by her employer, Mecca Bingo.

William Hill being named among the top 150 companies in Europe for diversity; as well as funding and support from Flutter, Entain, Kindred and Rank for LGBTQ+ communities around the world were of note too.

While there was significant progress by BGC members to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in sustainability projects, including one to plant a million trees worldwide.

Millions has also been invested in research, education and training, including for young people through the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered in cooperation with YGAM and GamCare.

So I hope you will agree, our support of this Veterans’ Day, builds on a growing heritage of supporting others where we can.

It is only right that veterans get this special day considering all they do to enrich families, communities and workplaces across the nation.

It is often said that they are the Best of Britain – I think that’s spot on.

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