One man’s passion for Doncaster Racing

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are. If you stop for a moment and look around, you will see things and people who will restore your faith in humanity.

This happened to me last month in Doncaster. I was working in Woodfield Park and popped into the Flourish Enterprises Tea Room. Whilst waiting for my usual coffee I noticed some new equine (horsey) artwork on the walls for sale.

Pete's painting

One of Pete’s paintings now hangs on my study wall.

Having bought a house near Doncaster Racecourse I thought to myself – oh one of those paintings would look rather fitting on my wall. Intrigued, I walked over to read more about the artist. The artist, Pete Eamonn Ward, spoke of his passion for horse racing and how trips to Doncaster racecourse and the bloodstock sales had inspired him to produce a collection of acrylic paintings and pastel sketches depicting jockeys and their mounts in action.

I got rather excited, as I tend to do about stuff like this. This was a local artist and a locally inspired subject – very back in Donny. Plus, for the modest sum of £90 I could finally graduate from monotonous Ikea prints that previously donned my walls to owning something truly original. The idea of which made me feel very grown up.

It was then I noticed at the bottom of the page that Pete requested that anyone interested in buying his artwork contact him by text or email because of his deafness. After reading this I knew I had to meet this guy and find out his story. How does a deaf Donny lad end up painting all over the world?

How one man has made a real difference.

Two weeks later I found myself round at Pete’s house for a cuppa, admiring his collection of equine art and listening to his incredible story.

Pete lost his hearing aged 4 after falling ill with mumps and measles. This was the 1950’s, he tells me, so he didn’t go to a special school. His parents sent him to main stream school, where with little other option, he taught himself to lip read, which is how I managed to have a full-blown conservation with him even though he is completely deaf.

Earlier work, observing village life in Nigeria.

Earlier work, observing village life in Nigeria.

After studying at art school and exhibiting in London. Pete spent much of his life helping others volunteering overseas, working to set up deaf schools in Nigeria, Cambodia and the Philippines where he helped set up the Filipino Deaf Visual Art Group.

Now permanently back in Donny Pete teachers art to deaf children in the borough. But most of his time is spent on his personal art centred around the racecourse.

We often forget the horses are the stars.

Going to Doncaster Races is an experience in it’s self – the betting, the setting, the drinks, the food, the music and the jockey’s. It’s almost too easy to forget why this whole thing is actually there. To celebrate the magnificent speed and form of these incredible animals. Pete however never forgets this.

To study the horses is his entire purpose of attending Doncaster Racecourse. All of this current work is inspired by Doncaster Racecourse, which he’s been attending since he was a lad. He proudly showed me a copy of an old racing program he still has from 1968 as he reminisced about childhood surrounded by horses and how he worked as a professional groom in his youth.

What I’m stuck by chatting to Pete is how astonishingly positive he is. The level of people with disabilities and work limiting injury’s in Doncaster is 23% higher than the national average. Doncaster also has the largest deaf community outside of London. But here is a Doncaster born man who is a humble, albeit inspiring example of how disability and tremendous ability can go hand in hand.

Pete Ward – I’m struck by how positive he is.

Pete’s art work

Pete paints impressionist style. Meaning it’s better appreciated from a meter or so away. This is art for people who like art to represent what they can see. To quote my dad – it’s none of that modern shit. This is art crafted as a learned skill, inspired by one man’s perseverance and passion to overcome adversity.

It’s rare you’d meet someone so positive, fit and healthy. He still runs or cycles every day. He’s currently training for a half marathon. I’m shocked when he tells me he is 60 years of age. He could pass for being in his late 40’s. Something he attributes to never smoking or drinking – hmmmm. Yet having travelled the world and having lived in rather challenging conditions to help others, he now wants to share and exhibit his own work again in Doncaster.

Can you help Pete out?

Pete’s latest collection of art work, approximately 16 pieces of equine art work inspired by Doncaster Racecourse, does not have a space to be exhibited to the public. Meaning these fantastic paintings aren’t being enjoyed by the people of Doncaster in the run up to the greatest horse race in our calendar. So, I’m hoping (pretty please) someone reading this can help provide an exhibition place or help Pete out.

If you can help, or if like me you are interested in buying one for yourself. You can get your hands on one of these fine prints for a modest £90-£120 depending on the size by choosing your print on Pete’s website and emailing or texting him.

Pete’s website: https://peternig.wixsite.com/website 

Pete’s email: peternig@yahoo.com 

Thank you folks. BDx.

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