Farming family host fundraiser for charity close to their hearts


Dairy cattle breed club Holstein NI has announced that the Perinatal Trust Fund at the regional Neonatal Unit based at the Royal Victoria Hospital will benefit from a charity open day at Ballyweaney on Saturday, April 22.

The one-day event will be hosted by the 150-cow Ballyweaney Herd owned by Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith Smyth of Hillcrest Farm, Cloughmills.

Generously supported by principal sponsors Lacpatrick and Ecosyl from Volac, the open day at 10 Ballyportery Road, will

incorporate the club’s annual stockjudging event and promises to be a fun-filled day for all the family.

Proceeds will be donated to The Perinatal Trust Fund at the regional Neonatal Unit based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Gareth Smyth explained: “The RVH Neonatal Unit cares for premature and sick babies from all over Northern Ireland.

“It’s a charity very close to our hearts. Our twin sons, Austin and Wallace, were born prematurely on New Year’s day 2016. They were more than 15 weeks premature and weighed 1lb 10ozs and 1lb 8ozs.

“The twins spent the first few months of their lives in incubators in Intensive Care. It was a stressful and difficult time for the whole family but thanks to the excellent facilities and specialist care provided by the medical professionals, they are miracle babies.”

Gareth added: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to host the open day and raise funds for the Perinatal Trust Fund. On behalf of my family, I and extend a warm invitation to everyone to come along and enjoy the day.”

The event has attracted a large selection of trade stands and craft stalls and will feature workshops, flower and cookery demonstrations, and a charity auction.

Activities for younger visitors include a bouncy castle, face painting, pony rides, and a mini pet farm.

Gareth sadi: “Plans are well underway, and we have been overwhelmed by the support pledged by businesses throughout the Province. More than 40 trade stands have confirmed their attendance, and we have been inundated with donations for the charity auction and raffle.”

Items for the charity auction include two pedigree Holstein calves, a three-point front linkage tractor weight, a signed Ulster rugby shirt, and a host of other items.

Holstein Club vice-chair Tommy Henry added: “We are very excited about this year’s event in North Antrim and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Smyth family for their hard work in advance of the event.“ For further information follow ‘Holstein NI Family Open’ on facebook.