Ian McMillan, renowned Yorkshire poet and BBC radio presenter known affectionately as ‘The Bard of Barnsley’, has got behind Macmillan Cancer Support by penning a poem in honour of their flagship fundraising event, Macmillan’s ‘Ride of Their Lives’ charity horse race at York Racecourse.

Macmillan’s ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race sees members of the public completing six months of intense jockey training and fundraising before racing thoroughbred horses on York’s iconic Knavesmire course, each amateur rider is committed to raising at least £4,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity horse race, now in its tenth year, typically raises tens of thousands of pounds for Macmillan each year, current and past amateur riders have raised over £1.2 million for people living with cancer.
Ian McMillan’s poem ‘The Ride of Their Lives’ is a celebration of the race – having raised an incredible amount for charity, as well as the riders’ challenge of training for the race and the achievement in establishing itself as the most successful charity horse race in the UK, Ian said:

“When Macmillan approached me to write a poem to celebrate the race I started to think about the parallels between training for the race and people going through gruelling cancer treatments. We’ve all faced challenges during the pandemic, having a diagnosis of cancer on top of this intensifies the feelings of worry and anxiety.

“I wanted to capture the challenges faced by people living with cancer, the sentiment of the poem feels very poignant right now.”

Megan Hayman Tansley from Macmillan Cancer Support said:

“We’re extremely honoured that Ian McMillan has written this poem for Macmillan to celebrate the Ride of Their Lives charity race and we can’t thank him enough for this wonderful gesture.

“One in two of us will get cancer and people living with cancer are being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis, Covid-19 and the additional costs associated with a diagnosis.

“A cancer diagnosis can feel very lonely and the fact that people are continuing to donate their time and money to make life that much better for Macmillan is humbling and so very appreciated.”

Twelve amateur riders will take part in Macmillan’s ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race at York Racecourse on Saturday 11 June, they are Michael Andrews, George Atkinson, Bella Brown, Samantha Brown, Lucy Horan, Jane Horner, Kerry Humphries, Bethany Johnson, Wendy Normile, Morgan Faye Prescott, Issy Saxby and Carolyn Woods. The twelve riders selected to take part can expect to race in front of around 25,000 people on the day and to date they have raised over £30,000 for Macmillan.

William Derby, Chief Executive at York Racecourse, said:
“We feel very privileged that Ian McMillan has written a poem to celebrate the ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race, an event that everyone at York Racecourse feels passionate about and has championed from day one.
“The poem captures the excitement and trepidation of preparing for the race, and I know it will take our previous riders straight back to many positive and inspirational memories over the years.

“At York Racecourse we’re incredibly proud of how much the Macmillan charity race has raised for people living with cancer, we couldn’t have hoped for better when we proposed the idea a decade ago.”

The Macmillan ‘Ride of Their Lives’ race will be the first race of the day on Saturday 11 June. The Macmillan Charity Raceday at York is the oldest running charity raceday in the country, 2022 marks over 50 years of this iconic partnership, in which time over £9 million has been raised for people living with cancer.


Watch Ian McMillan performing his poem ‘Ride of Their Lives’ from Vimeo below. (captioned) (clean)

Password: Macmill4nRideofTh3irLive5

Racing fans can support this fabulous day of fundraising just by attending, for further information and to book tickets visit the York Racecourse website.

Macmillan are also hosting a Silent Auction as part of the Macmillan Raceday at York and to view the fabulous auction lots and to bid visit:

You can support the twelve amateur riders by donating to their JustGiving page;

Macmillan Ride of Their Lives charity horse race
List of riders 2022
1. Michael Andrews (Petersfield)
2. George Atkinson (Northallerton)
3. Bella Brown (York)
4. Samantha Brown (Malton)
5. Lucy Horan (Newmarket)
6. Jane Horner (Easingwold)
7. Kerry Humphries (Bury St Edmunds)
8. Bethany Johnson (Darlington)
9. Wendy Normile (Ireland)
10. Morgan Faye Prescott (Cumbria)
11. Issy Saxby (Ripon)
12. Carolyn Woods (Bedale)