He is currently the host of the BBC Radio 2 programme Jeremy Vine, which presents news, views, interviews with live guests and popular music. He also presents the BBC TV show, Eggheads. Here he describes his connection with the charity.
“I first met Rachel Medill (founder of Ride High) during the Paleozoic era, when the earth was covered with moss and small winged insects that scuttled about and – no, I’m wrong, it was Durham University in 1983 but it was a very long time ago.
No one had a mobile phone. No one had a Facebook page. Surfing meant you got wet and a firewall meant you got burnt. If you wanted to be on Twitter you bought a bird feeder. There were rumours of a student with a battery-powered Scrabble board, but I never saw it. So Rachel and I and our fellow students were forced to get to know each other in old-fashioned ways, like sitting in bars and talking. We played pub billiards, discussed Mrs Thatcher and ate far too many kebabs. Over time we became that very analogue thing: friends.
I watched my pal as she progressed through life, admiring her for her passions. Horses, of course (she was a serious rider, competing at Badminton and Burghley). The countryside, always. Reading. Cooking. But most of all, she treasured those lucky friends. Rachel is the most loyal friend of all.
One day I opened the Daily Mail and saw a headline along the lines of, THE WOMAN WHO IS SHAKING UP THE CITY. In a very short skirt Rachel was explaining her plans for M&G, one of those companies that takes your savings and returns them to you a few years later with a zero missing. I searched the article for a mention of horses: nothing. It occurred to me that the world had recognised Rachel but maybe she had not recognised herself. A city job? I couldn’t believe it.
Then came Ride High. As far from the world of banking as you can imagine – if you give them your money they turn it into love. I visited the charity’s HQ for the first time in 2010 and met the children (fewer than twenty back then). Today Ride High have over 100 names on their books – some of the kids as young as eight. What a venture.
In the Milton Keynes area, an estimated 13,000 children live in poverty. Most live in environments dominated by drugs, alcohol, parental ill-health, family breakdown or poverty. About a third live in foster care. Some have tried to commit suicide or are self-harming; others are caring for their own parents. Every time I see Rachel, her face lights up with the latest project or life turned around. New names enter each conversation – sometimes horses, but more usually the youngsters who have finally come out of themselves by learning how to care for the animals. This project is so special, so unique, so powerful, that I wonder if it’s a little miracle: thirty years after Durham and all those earnest student conversations about how we would change the world, my old friend actually did. She works with heart and soul to make a difference, and she has found what she is passionate about.
Of course Rachel can only do it with our help. Which is why I am so proud to be a patron of Ride High.”