Aintree Racecourse announces today that its long-standing Press Officer, Nigel Payne, is to retire from the role.
Nigel, who has worked with Aintree Racecourse for 31 years, has been a pivotal member of the Aintree team, handling the world’s media at the three-day Grand National meeting and overseeing many high-profile events for Aintree, notably his work on the famous weights lunch.
He has had a key role in working with Aintree’s biggest sponsors, which, during his time with the racecourse have included the News of the World, The Sun, Colt Cars, Seagram, Martell and, the current Grand National title sponsor, John Smith’s.
He encountered some particularly special Grand National winners, including Red Rum’s historic third and final win in 1977, Aldaniti’s fairytale victory for Bob Champion in 1981 and, most memorably, Earth Summit in 1998, when Nigel experienced his very own taste of Grand National glory as an owner. Earth Summit triumphed in the colours of the Summit Partnership, which he set up in 1992.
His time at Aintree has never been short of drama either, as he was part of the team which managed the unexpected events of the void race in 1993 and the bomb scare in 1997, which led to the very first Monday National. Nigel has also been instrumental in the development of Aintree’s new media centre, which opened two years ago. His valuable input created world-class media facilities for Aintree’s iconic Grand National event.
Reflecting on his time with Aintree, Nigel Payne said: “I have loved every second of my time at Aintree. My first National was in 1976 so I feel, after 31 years, it is time for a younger person to assume my responsibilities.
“I have enjoyed working with two proactive and creative Chairmen, Chris Collins and Peter Daresbury, and have had similarly excellent relationships with Charles Barnett and the late John Parrett – both tremendous Managing Directors.
“I am sure Julian Thick will continue to successfully lead Aintree’s passionate and dedicated team.”
Payne added: “Withdrawal symptoms will be unbearable – but this marks the start of a gradual wind down after 43 years of working for a living! I also have a new venture - a football fan based website, iFanFootball.com - which I am hoping will become another social networking site like Facebook, but with a sporting focus.”
Nigel will certainly be missed at Aintree. Julian Thick, Aintree’s Managing Director, said: “Nigel has played a big part in making the Grand National what it is today.
“We thank him for all of his hard work and dedication. He will be greatly missed and we wish him the best of luck for the future.”