In this most difficult of years, a farmer influenced by footballer Marcus Rashford has launched a “donate a sheep” appeal to help families in need this Christmas.
“The Christmas Appeal” will see farmers donate a sheep – a lamb or ewe – to sell, with the proceeds given to the Salvation Army in Aberystwyth to help struggling families buy presents for their children.
The idea came from Iwan Pughe Jones, who invited local Salvation Army captain Claire Durrant to a Farmers’ Union of Wales meeting earlier in November to talk to farmers about their Christmas Appeal and how they intend to assist families who are struggling to put food on the table and pay bills during the pandemic.
“Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford has helped disadvantaged young people across the country with his food bank taskforce,” said Mr Pughe Jones, a farmer from mid-Wales.
“He set a benchmark for us all to aspire to, and I started to think how I could help.”
Farmers who attended the meeting were moved when they heard of the hardship families face, he added.
“They were having to make difficult choices of turning off heating and electricity, to the point twhere they had to justify turning the oven on to cook food for their families for a certain period of time, as they did not have the money to cover the cost – let alone offer their loved ones presents for Christmas Day.”
For the appeal, farmers are asked to donate a sheep to sell at a designated livestock mart by the 14 December deadline (see “How to donate a sheep”), as this will enable Cpt Durrant, one of the ministers at the Salvation Army, to convert money collected into presents and goods for Christmas.
Some farmers at the meeting had finished selling livestock, but they were adamant they wanted to contribute to the cause financially, as well as help organise the appeal.
Mr Pughe Jones suggested food producers could help people who had suffered financial loss or ill health during the Covid-19 pandemic. A Just Giving page has been set up with a fundraising target of £1,000. But he is hoping it can raise much more than this.
“I hope the idea will extend beyond Wales, so that we can really make a difference across the country,” he added. “When times are tough, farming has a proud history of getting together and helping those who are less fortunate.”
Major George Baker, divisional commander for the south and mid-Wales division of the Salvation Army, said he was delighted to receive the support from farmers.
“At Christmas, we aim to ensure that no one misses out on the hope, love, joy and peace of this special season,” he added.
The Salvation Army has an active presence in mid-Wales, with bases in Aberystwyth and Newtown, both of which will benefit directly from the money raised by this appeal. It works alongside agencies such as the Farming Community Network (FCN) and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rabi) to provide specialist help to members of farming communities.
How to donate a sheep
Welshpool Livestock Sales, Rhayader Livestock Sales, Oswestry Cattle Auctions and Farmers Marts have confirmed they are able to assist with this appeal.
They have allocated the following sale dates and contact details:
- Dolgellau Friday 4 December (stores). Contact Rhys Davies on 07773 484190.
- Welshpool Monday 7 December (also Christmas fatstock). Contact Glandon Lewis on 07774 224999.
- Oswestry Wednesday 9 December (also Christmas fatstock). Contact Glandon Lewis on 07774 224999.
- Machynlleth Wednesday 9 December (also Christmas fatstock) Contact Glyn Jarrett on 07876 657493 or Haulwen T Jones on 07712 199542.
- Rhayader Thursday 10 December (also Christmas fatstock). Contact Glandon Lewis on 07774 224999.
Fatstock competitions that are held annually on these dates could be subject to change/cancellation due to Covid-19 issues. Markets will still hold sales on these dates.
Organisers also plan to link up with the Welsh meat factories to assist with the appeal.
Producers who want to donate the value of a lamb/ewe should contact the following companies supporting the scheme:
- Randall Parker Foods Llanidloes and Livestock Marketing. Contact Kevin Brown or James Coleman on 01686 412114.
- Dunbia (Wales) – Llanybydder. Contact Awel Jones or Lynwen Mathias on 01570 480284.