A COUPLE of weeks ago, at the Champions’ Dinner hosted by the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association, I was asked to deliver the after-dinner speech. I was truly honoured to be asked. As I missed last year’s event due to being overseas, I did not see and hear Nick Nugent’s hugely entertaining talk. Maybe it was just as well.

Had I seen and heard Nick I would most probably have turned down the invitation to follow in his shoes. A public speaker I may well be, but a comedian I am not! Amusing speeches are not my forte. I only wish they were.

On the night I took the opportunity to outline some hopes and worries I have for the business I love and have worked diligently in for more than 40 years. I hope I have made a worthy contribution during those years.

My second message was quite a personal one, and even more important I believe. It concerns each and every one of you. Nothing can be achieved in life without people. You and I are at the centre of everything that happens – we are the greatest assets that any business, family or friendship group has. Yet we often fail to give ourselves the attention we need.

We make sure our cars are serviced and maintained, and pass their MOT if we own them that long. Do we pay the same attention to ourselves? The answer is that the majority do not. Many of us act as if we are going to live forever, and we put on the long finger things that we know we should do now.

While we are often forced to deal with physical problems, we are more likely to postpone doing something about issues surrounding our mental health. For the many tens of thousands of you who read The Irish Field, you will be aware that we introduced this health column, with uncompromising support from Owen Brennan and his company Devenish Nutrition, 18 months ago. The feedback has been overwhelming, most given to me personally. I am always happy to hear from readers, and always in strict confidence.

The catalyst for this column was a personal awareness of mental health issues, in my own case the area of depression, but also the encouragement and support of a man who is both a personal and industry champion, Dr Adrian McGoldrick. Within minutes of putting the idea of a regular column to him, he was on board and fully behind it.

In recent times I have attended too many funerals of friends and colleagues in the industry, and each time I do I reflect on the meaning of life, and the contributions made by the many different individuals to their family, communities and their industry. Their legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those they loved, and who loved them in return.

Attending funerals iterates for me the fact that death is one of the very few guarantees we have in life. One day it will happen for all of us.

If you start every morning with that thought in mind, your life can actually become powerful, because you can release all fear from your life. It is not a prescription to become reckless or careless, but rather a licence to chase your dreams, to stand up for what you believe in, and to love and live more.

It is knowing that every moment you spend on this earth is part of a great legacy you will leave behind. With that in mind, remember that it is never too late to do a kindness. Choose to help another instead of yourself, and be aware of others. The value of a kindness is immeasurable.

If you have a problem, share it. This is a key message, and one that cannot be emphasised enough. You will be amazed how others are willing to help.

Overall, choose to become the person you want to be remembered as, starting right now! Steve Jobs said the following, highly prophetic words: “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” He was so right. You have nothing to lose, so live in the moment.

Chase your dreams, and do it with passion.

My late father had a saying that now resonates with me. “Live every day as if it’s your last, because one day you will be right.” Life is something to cherish and to be lived to the full.

What if this was your last day? Would you be satisfied with your life? Have you given your all? Have you done yourself justice? If the answer is yes, then you are living life to the full. If not, the time to change this is now. It is never too late to change for the good.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received was from a family member who told me: “The most important thing in life is to be happy.” This is so true and every action we take should have this as its aim.

Channelling that happiness and making a difference can benefit yourself, your loved ones and even your industry. Together we can all make a difference and for the good of all. Talking works at both the corporate and at the human level. Talking is good. Remember the saying that children as soon as they start school are taught – sharing is caring.

I will share this advice with you. Care for each other. Look out for each other. Be happy and be successful.