Freelance racing and bloodstock sales photographer Nicola Paramo has today, Friday 26 October, been crowned the winner of this year’s CATS Personal Development Awards at Newmarket racecourse.
The award, which is sponsored by Hartpury University for a second year, recognises the person who has put the most dedication and effort into developing their career in racing after using Racing Welfare’s Careers Advice and Training Service (CATS). The judging panel were looking for someone who has been proactive and taken every opportunity available to develop themselves in the racing industry.
After reviewing an incredibly strong field of entries, the judges shortlisted three nominees whose achievements were celebrated at a lunch event, where the overall winner was revealed. Nicola was presented with a trophy and a unique prize relevant to her specific developmental goals.
Nicola initially accessed CATS for some career coaching when she had aspirations of setting up a freelance business offering sales photos and videos to the industry, as well as social media management. The coaching supported her in taking the next steps, and she then accessed a CATS grant to help her invest in the specialist equipment she needed. Since then, her business has taken off and she has provided photography for a number of trainers including Sir Mark Prescott, whose social media accounts she now manages. This year, Nicola has provided her first sales imagery and videos, and will be working with more industry stakeholders.
Speaking about CATS from the awards lunch, Nicola said: “It’s a really friendly service, if there’s anything you want to know you just contact them – they’re very approachable and if there’s anything you need to know you can just ask.”
On receiving her award, she added: “I was a bit shocked to be nominated to be honest, and even more shocked to win; I’m just very thankful to Emma who nominated me and the panel for choosing me. It’s something that will look great on your CV and it has been a really enjoyable day.”
Catherine Porter, Head of Hartpury University’s Equine Department, selected the winner. She said: “It was hard to choose a winner from three really strong finalists, but I chose Nicola Paramo as it was a clever initiative and she utilised CATS well to support her venture – as noted in her nomination, it is niche and she looks to be carving out a good business for herself.
“It is a pleasure to continue our support of the CATS Personal Development Award again this year. Our partnerships with organisations within the horseracing industry allow us to continue to develop qualifications that enhance the career prospects of students at Hartpury and to lead best practice for horses, riders and professionals.”
Also recognised for their commitment to personal development were finalists Julie Lingham and Jess Gillam.
After working in various roles across the industry for several years, Julie went through intensive career coaching with CATS to realise her passion. Following her coaching sessions, Julie put in the work to research and apply for her dream job as an Equine Welfare Integrity Officer with the BHA. She continued working with CATS to update her CV and to prepare for her job interview, being offered the job in April this year.
Jess accessed the CATS career coaching service to explore further opportunities and develop her career in the horseracing industry. Jess has been proactive in her career journey, taking all continuous professional development opportunities available to her including successfully applying to the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industry MBA. She is now part of the delivery team for the Regional Staff Development Programme and continues to develop her career in the industry alongside studying for her MBA.
Racing Welfare’s Careers Advice & Training Service, funded by The Racing Foundation, is available to everyone working in the British horseracing industry.
CATS offers free, impartial advice and practical assistance to help with professional development, job seeking skills, returning to work and changing career within the industry. CATS can also help people looking to transfer to a career in racing or return to the sport after a period away. It also provides a wealth of support and resources for employers.
The services can be accessed by calling Racing’s Support Line on 0800 6300 443