A former professional jockey has found his “second calling” with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST).

Thomas Brown, 31, rode 123 winners as a jockey with his biggest success coming in 2016 on a horse called Educate in the prestigious John Smith’s Cup at York – the feature race on a raceday which attracted over 35,000 people and was broadcast live on Channel 4.

One of Thomas’ other winners was for Sir Alex Ferguson at Ascot, and he also achieved a third place aboard a horse in the royal silks when he was an apprentice jockey.

But injuries saw Thomas, who rode for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, give up his jockey’s licence in 2017 and a knee injury in a football match in 2022 left him unable to ride horses for three months.

During his rehabilitation he considered a career outside of horse racing and consulted with a career adviser at JETS – the Jockeys Education and Training Scheme. They identified a career with the ambulance service to help fulfil Thomas’ desire to be outside meeting new people every day and providing a similar adrenaline rush to being a jockey.

JETS arranged for Thomas to meet EEAST paramedics providing medical cover at a raceday at Newmarket so he could find out more about working for the ambulance service.

They told Thomas he could retrain to work for the ambulance service without a university degree, as internal career pathways within EEAST would allow him to progress from an entry level position as an emergency care assistant to become a paramedic.

Thomas successfully applied to become an emergency care assistant working in the Bury St Edmunds area and started in March 2023. He was on the road in an ambulance working alongside a qualified paramedic after six weeks of intensive training.

Celebrating his year anniversary at EEAST, Thomas says he looks forward to every shift and his ambition is to become an emergency medical technician and then a paramedic.

He said: “I feel incredibly proud to wear the green uniform and work for the ambulance service. I had some great days as a jockey, but it feels like I have found my second calling at EEAST and I’m loving every minute of it.  

“To see the difference, you make to patients is incredible. It’s a good feeling when you see the relief on a patient’s face when you arrive on scene and it’s even better when you make them more comfortable.

“Becoming a paramedic is the eventual goal but I’m taking things one step at a time and enjoying learning new skills from supportive colleagues who want you to do well. Working in the ambulance service has matured me a lot and given me a wider perspective on life.”

He also speaks at seminars to young apprentice jockeys about his riding career and his second career with the ambulance service, discussing the skills he was able to transfer from horse racing to the ambulance service.

He added: “JETS has given me so much help in supporting me into a career that I love, so it’s important I give something back to them by sharing my experience and what I have learned from it.

“When I was starting out in racing aged 16, I never thought of anything other than being a jockey. I now encourage people to think about your options if a career as a jockey doesn’t work out.”