Dale farmers do it again with major charity effort
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
THE sperm of a £45,000 Swaledale tup has helped raise £3,000 for a charity.
Harwood farmer Neville Bainbridge and Langdon Beck Hotel landlady Sue Matthews teamed up this year to transform an annual farmers’ winter dinner into a major fundraising event.
They chose to support the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, in recognition of Scottish farmer and international rugby player Doddie Weir’s efforts in finding a cure for motor neuron disease (MND) – but they didn’t expect to raise as much as they did.
The former British Lions player was diagnosed with MND in 2017.
Mr Bainbridge said: “I did meet him at Corbridge Show where he was a steward. When I heard he was diagnosed I thought that is not good.”
He was particularly moved when Mr Weir appeared at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in December.
Mr Bainbridge added: “When I saw him come on stage to receive the Helen Rollason Award I said to myself, ‘I am going to do something’.”
Mr Bainbridge chatted to Mrs Matthews because “Sue gets things done” and soon the ball was rolling.
A number of raffles were launched and an auction planned for the annual winter dinner at Langdon Beck Hotel, in upper Teesdale.
Mrs Matthews said: “I said to Neville if we made £700 I would be happy; if we get £1,000 it would be fantastic. He thought we would get £1,500 but we doubled that.”
Mr Bainbridge added: “That is just brilliant – I did not think we would get anywhere near that.”
Among the items up for auction was an opportunity for a Swaledale farmer to have four of his ewes tupped with a Swaledale ram, which Barningham’s Geoff and Carol Marwood had bought for £45,000 at Kirkby Stephen Mart recently.
The tup had been bred by David Allinson. Mr Bainbridge’s bid of £900 proved to be the successful one and he is now carefully choosing his four ewes.
He said: “I thought I am not going to an opportunity to have a £45,000 tup – I don’t have the money.”
Good money-raisers were also two handmade cushions featuring Swaledale sheep, which had been donated by Michael Lee, who was a judge at last year’s Landgon Beck Show. They were bought for £115 and £95 respectively.
About 100 people turned out for the buffet supper.
Mrs Matthews said: “We want to thank everyone who supported it. There is a lot of goodwill for Doddie Weir. We had people who couldn’t make it but who donated their ticket money.”
Mr Bainbridge said the event had raised £2,885, with one person donating £115 to round it off to £3,000.
Upper dale farmers are renowned for their charity efforts. In recent years they launched a “Dales Farmers On Tour” cycle event which made £20,000. The cash was split between Cancer Research UK, the Heart Foundation, the Great North Air Ambulance Service and Meningitis UK.