KEEPING A HIGH PROFILE
LET them know we are here, Gwillym Jenkins urged Farmlife. He was anxious that farmers in Wales should know that they were represented by delegates at the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institutions London annual general meeting.
The chairman of Cardiganshire NFU, Mr Jenkins is one of the many people who raise funds for the charity and one of those anxious that farmers in need of its help should be aware of what is available to them, whether they live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
When you are collecting for RABI within the farming community farmers do not seem to know what RABI is, he says. They do not seem to know that there is a national organisation ready to assist retired, disabled and other disadvantaged farmers, farm managers and their families.
The help that RABI gives comes in many forms. It provides sheltered accommodation, helps pay for nursing home care and awards grants to help people continue living in their own homes. The support given depends upon need and is extended in a friendly way to include holidays and birthday and Christmas gifts.
It is also able to help working farmers and their dependents who suffer ill health or catastrophes. Among the working farmers who have received help recently are a dairy farmer whose small daughter was undergoing a heart transplant operation. RABI paid for a relief milker in order that the farmer could be at his daughters bedside at the most critical time.
Last year a total of 1156 people were helped in some way, a net increase of 53, chairman Angela Barton reported, though tracing those who should and could be helped is not easy, particularly the very old who have lost touch with their farming community.
RABI has two residential homes of its own – Beaufort House in Somerset and Manson House in Suffolk – and during the past year each property has been extended in order to accommodate more members of the "RABI family". The charity also has places for its beneficiaries in the homes of other organisations and last year arranged for places to be available for them in the Abbeyfield Societys property in Llandeilo, Dyfed.
RABI is supported by county committees and two new ones were formed last year, one in Cumbria and the other in Anglesey.
Lancashire produced the most outstanding performance by a county committee in 1994 and RABI president Lord Plumb presented the Sam Taylor cup to committee chairman Dick Parker. He also presented the committees honorary secretary, Jenny Daulby, with the award for the honorary local secretary making the greatest contribution to the institutions work.
In addition to serving the Lancashire Committee, Jenny, who is the regional administrator for the NFU in the north-west, is also honorary secretary to the RABI committee in Cheshire.
The Beaufort shield for the county showing the greatest improvement in fund-raising and the Dennis Brown shield for the county collecting the greatest amount of money per NFU member were both awarded to the Suffolk committee, whose efforts included raising £11,700 through a sponsored bike ride.
Besides fund raising, supporters in the farming communities assist by keeping an eye out for people who need RABI help and befriending local beneficiaries.
Inquiries to The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Shaw House, 27 West Way, Oxford OX2 OQH (01865-724931).