Holstein open day raises £30,000 for neonatal unit

The Smyth family Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith from Hillcrest Farm in Cloughmills hosted Holstein NI's Family Open Day in aid of the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
The Smyth family Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith from Hillcrest Farm in Cloughmills hosted Holstein NI's Family Open Day in aid of the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Holstein NI’s family open day, sponsored by Lacpatrick and Ecosyl from Volac, has been hailed as a phenomenal success.

The event, hosted by the Smyth family’s Ballyweaney Herd at Cloughmills, attracted more than 1,500 people and has raised £30,000 for the Perinatal Trust Fund at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Neonatal Unit.

Admiring a John Deere 710 tractor at Holstein NI's family open day are Ivan Clarke, and grandson James Campbell Clarke from Ballymoney.

Admiring a John Deere 710 tractor at Holstein NI's family open day are Ivan Clarke, and grandson James Campbell Clarke from Ballymoney.

Club chairman Tommy Henry said: “We are delighted with the success of the event. The aim was to raise money for a worthy cause, but the end result has far exceeded our initial expectations.

“I’d like to thank the Smyth family, their friends, club members and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to contribute to the success of the open day. Thanks also to our sponsors Lacpatrick and Ecosyl.

“The atmosphere was great and the event was buzzing with trade stands, craft stalls, BBQ, live music, and a variety of amusements and activities for young children.”

Gareth and Judith Smyth are the proud parents of twin sons Wallace and Austin. Born almost 16 weeks premature, the boys celebrated their first birthday on New Years Day. 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.

Brothers Harry and Jack Orr from Cloughmills, enjoying Holstein NI's family open day at Hillcrest Farm.

Brothers Harry and Jack Orr from Cloughmills, enjoying Holstein NI's family open day at Hillcrest Farm.

Host Gareth Smyth added: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support for our chosen charity. A sincere thank you to everyone who donated items for the charity auction and raffle; sent donations and attended the open day.

“Donations are still coming in, but we are thrilled that the event has raised £30,000 for the Perinatal Trust Fund. The RVH Neonatal Unit provides excellent facilities and specialist care for premature and sick babies. The money raised will help fund life-saving equipment and provide support for families from throughout Northern Ireland.”

More than 60 items were donated to the charity auction conducted by Ballymena Mart auctioneer Foster Gowdy.

Topping the auction at 3,200gns was the four-week-old heifer calf Ballyweaney Supersire Kim PLI £329, a potential 10th generation VG/EX from the Kimo family.

Sired by Seagull Bay Supersire VG88 ET, she is bred from an EX94-3E Picston Shottle daughter. Donated by the Smyth family, she sold to Willard and Adam Watson’s Derrydorragh Herd based at Macosquin, Coleraine.

Stephen Watterson, Lisnamorrow Herd, Magherafelt, paid 720gns to secure Carnhill Solaris Lepha PLI £379. This January-born heifer calf was donated by Conor Casey from Cloughmills, and was one of the first Solaris daughters to sell in the UK.

Other auction items included boxing gloves signed by Carl Frampton, an Ireland rugby jersey signed by Rory Best, a tour of Westminster with a meal for four, and multiple lots of internationally acclaimed AI semen, animal feed, dairy chemicals, and children’s ride-on toys.

During the event visitors had an opportunity to test their stockjudging skills by placing three classes of Holstein cattle – senior cows, junior cows and in-milk heifers.

Master judge was Richard Graham from Gretna.

In recent months members of the NI Holstein Young Breeders’ Club have been competing for a place on the team taking part at the parent society’s National Competitions Day in Cheshire on 1st July. Scores from two practice sessions and the open day final have been collated to determine the team members representing Northern Ireland.

They include:

Linear team: Brian Weatherup (junior), Desmond McCorry (intermediate), and James Weatherup (senior).

Stockjudging team: Brian Weatherup and Jack Orr (junior); Matthew McLean and William McCormick (intermediate); Robert Stewart and John McLean (senior).

Nicholas McCann from Bangor was the winner of the open category, and the runner-up was Richard Charles from Cookstown.

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