A Fresh Opportunity for Racing Chaplain in Hometown Community
Racing New Zealand (Racing NZ) has today announced that Racing Chaplain Andrew McKerrow will take on a new opportunity in his home community of Belfast, Christchurch after accepting a full-time ministry position within the Salvation Army beginning in January 2024.
The Salvation Army offered the Southern-based community leader the role that holds special significance for McKerrow, working within the community where he grew up.
McKerrow is thrilled about the new position, working alongside his wife Kim to serve their community through their ministry work.
“I’m very excited about taking on this position with my home community in Belfast,” McKerrow said.
McKerrow has been entrenched in the racing industry for more than 35 years, beginning his career as an aspiring Apprentice Jockey but finding his true calling in supporting and caring for people within the racing community.
Throughout his years as Chaplain, McKerrow built strong relationships with many individuals in the industry and his passion led him to become New Zealand's first Racing Chaplain in 2015, a role that allowed him to provide spiritual and emotional support to those involved in racing.
Despite this new role, McKerrow’s presence will remain heavily in the Southern region.
“For the racing community in Christchurch, my role won’t look any different. They will probably see more of me if anything! From a local front, I will be able to concentrate more in the Christchurch area and do that well,” McKerrow said.
“The only thing that will change is that with me being more focused on my new role in Christchurch, I won’t have the opportunity to complete wider national travel.
“I will still be attending all Christchurch race meetings and will be available for pastoral care when needed. It’s business as usual for Christchurch racing.”
McKerrow is enthusiastic about expanding the network of Chaplains across New Zealand over time, further extending the support and care provided to those in the racing community.
The Chaplain will also remain an integral part of the Racing NZ cross-code racing initiative, which aims to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of racing participants.
“I think the new mental health and wellbeing initiative administered by the three codes is brilliant. The more resources we have in racing, the better,” he said.
“I love racing and I’m really glad to be in a position where I can continue to offer support for our participants while working alongside the codes.
“I knew something had to happen as we couldn’t help our industry properly with the current framework. The country will be better serviced at a national level with what Victoria McArthur and Racing NZ are doing and that is really exciting for the future of our industry,” McKerrow said.
Victoria McArthur, Head of Wellbeing for Racing New Zealand also commented on McKerrow’s involvement with the new initiative.
"While my time working alongside Andrew has been relatively short, it's evident that his dedication to ensuring everyone thrives within racing is truly inspiring.”
"I am delighted that Andrew will have the opportunity to continue this valuable work in Christchurch, as part of the wellbeing programme, while also providing support to his community in Belfast,” she said.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing CEO Bruce Sharrock acknowledged McKerrow's dedication to his position.
“Andrew has played an integral role within the Thoroughbred industry when confronted with challenging situations and will remain a key part of the Southern racing community,” he said.
“His unique ability to instantly build trust and rapport with our participants is a rare skill and one that we appreciate deeply. On behalf of all those that he has worked alongside and supported, we thank him for his services to our industry,” Sharrock said.
Harness Racing New Zealand CEO Gary Woodam congratulated McKerrow on his new chapter.
“Andrew has been like a family member to our participants. He is the one you confide in and look for help from when in need, or just have a chat with, he covers all types of conversations.”
“The Salvation Army in Belfast Christchurch will be very excited to have Andrew leading them. We thank him for his contribution, Andrew can be very proud of what he has achieved,” Woodham said.
Greyhound Racing New Zealand CEO Edward Rennell thanked McKerrow for his continued commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.
“The importance of Andrew’s contribution to the Greyhound industry and our participants cannot be understated.”
“Andrew has been a wonderful support to many of our people in their times of need, and he has a special way about him that makes people feel comfortable talking and opening up to him.
“I would like to personally thank Andrew for everything that he has done for our people, and I have every confidence that he will continue to make invaluable contributions in his new role, along with his wife Kim,” Rennell said.