Happy Horse Retirement Home Ltd director Nicky Van Dijk receives the Judges Award from Peter Swanson, representing the sponsor, Mid Wales Manufacturing Group.
The first private retirement home of its kind, for horses in Great Britain, uses the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme to train and develop staff to fulfil their potential.
Established in 1989, the company has eight full and part-time employees. Retired horses from a wide area, including an Arab ex-racehorse from Dubai, are cared for at the home.
The business has ambitions to expand to provide a haven where owners can retire their beloved horses. Having a loyal, highly trained, experienced and committed team is essential to the business.
Senior staff have progressed from Jobs Growth Wales to Apprenticeship Programmes and British Horse Society examinations. The business currently has two apprentices and training is tailored to the needs of the business and the aspirations of individuals.
Assistant manager Mark Pugh won the Jobs Growth Wales Outstanding Achiever Award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru in 2016 and has now progressed to a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4).
Over the last three years, company director, Nicky Van Dijk has trained and mentored nine other level three apprentices and she encouraged six of them to use their skills to set up their own businesses. One former apprentice has gone on to represent Great Britain in harness driving.
“The Apprenticeship Programme has provided enormous benefits to our trainees,” said Nicky. “The yard, as a consequence, has a high performing team of highly motivated employees who have the ability to work together or independently.”
Happy Horse Retirement Home at Crai, near Brecon was recently awarded the Judges Award at the annual Powys Business Awards.
Nicky said: “I am very pleased to be given the Judges Award because it means a lot to the company and the people I have trained over the years.
“We were up against a lot of big companies and I thought we had no chance, but it’s nice to the recognised. We live in a very rural area and it’s important to me that we put something back into the community.”
Peter Swanson, one of the Powys Business Awards judges, described the business as "special”. He said: “When it opened, it was the first of its kind in Great Britain. It has found a unique niche market, a retirement home for all types of horse, sponsored by people living in the UK and abroad.
“It has used the resource and apprenticeships to train aspiring horse managers to enable them to get to the highest British Horse Society management levels. All done in-house.”
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