By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Don’t be fooled by the constant smile and demure look of the security officer who’s been policing the paddock area at Hastings Racecourse for the past 15 years.
Put simply, you don’t want to mess with Linda MacDonald, the five- foot-three, 120-pound grandmother of two who was trained in self-defence many years ago when she was introduced to the business as a private investigator with Pemberton Security.
She’s been on the PNE grounds dating back to 1973 working in all areas of security either in parking or at Pacific Coliseum events. “In 2003 I was offered a full-time job at the racetrack to keep an eye on things in Silks,” Linda says. “A few people in security retired and I was moved to the paddock. I’m in my 15th year doing what I do and I love every minute of it.”
Besides surveying the in-and-out tunnel traffic that leads to the barns at Hastings, MacDonald’s main responsibility on race days is to keep things under control in the paddock where the horses are saddled and stroll the walking ring while owners and trainers compare notes with jockeys.
“Invited family members and guests are allowed in the paddock area before the horses head for the parade to the post,” MacDonald says. “My main concern is that everyone follows the rules. No food or beverages; no sitting on the infield grass; no running around. I explain that the horses are very sensitive. A lady once showed up with a baby in a stroller and infant in her arms and wanted to pet the horses. Some people just don’t get it.”
Born on a potato farm in Nova Scotia, Linda headed west in 1971 and entered the workforce as a flight attendant with Pacific Western Airlines. A single mom of four children, she once held down five jobs at one time to make ends meet.
“I worked as a backstage ramp girl at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival for 20 years,” she says. “If that doesn’t toughen you up in the security business, nothing will.