Until recently, dog-lover Jemma had never been greyhound racing and knew little about the sport. On visiting a greyhound kennel, she soon fell in love with racing and found her dream job. As part of the first cohort of Animal Care and Welfare Assistant Apprentices, she is one of a number of young people looking to pursue a career within greyhound racing.

“My journey into greyhound racing started last summer, when I applied for a part-time job working with Jean Liles at her kennels. I had no background in greyhound racing and had never seen a race but I had an interest in dogs so knew I wanted to find out more. The moment I stepped into the kennels and met the greyhounds I knew this was what I wanted to do and I haven’t looked back since.

Jean found out about the Apprenticeship scheme and suggested that I apply. I’m now halfway through my training and I’ve loved every single minute of it. I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time and at the heart of it is how to look after and care for the greyhounds. As well as the Apprenticeship, I am studying for my maths and English exams and I’m so grateful that Jean and everyone at the kennels has been so understanding and helpful whilst I study for these.

My favourite part of the Apprenticeship so far has been learning about track preparation and everything that goes into making the track safe for the dogs to run on. We had a great day at Crayford learning how it is done and I took lots away from the session. There’s so much that goes into preparing the track and now I can be confident that my dogs are racing on a safe surface. I’m really looking forward to our work experience in the Racing Office at Romford next week and learning more about what goes on behind-the-scenes to make the races run smoothly.

I was a bit nervous before I enrolled in the Apprenticeship scheme as it was going to take me out of my comfort zone. But I am so glad I am doing it. I am so much more confident now and everyone has been so supportive. If I am unsure of anything or if I have any concerns, I just pick up the phone to Nyc who runs the scheme on behalf of GBGB and she always answers whatever the time of day – or night – it is.

I have had so many fantastic experiences so far including presenting an award at the GBGB Awards Ceremony in January. The night was an amazing experience. I was very nervous to start with but it was so lovely to get the chance to go and see how much everyone in the sport has achieved. Watching the playbacks of the dogs made me really appreciate everything that the trainers in the room had done to get their dogs there. They are all such an inspiration.

The highlight of the year so far is without a doubt watching our amazing Union Jack win the Golden Sprint final. It was so mesmerizing watching Jack run. I was overwhelmed and completely speechless – it was just amazing. It was a whole team effort getting him ready but knowing that I played a part in preparing him for that race made me so proud. I love every part of caring for our greyhounds but this moment was special and made all the hard work worth it.

My ultimate dream is to be a professional greyhound trainer. I know I’ve just got to keep learning all that I can and working hard and we’ll see – hopefully it will happen.”

For more information about the Animal Care and Welfare Assistant apprenticeship and for details of how to apply, please contact GBGB HR Manager Zoë Brown on 0207 7822 0908.