Farmers are gearing up for a 1,000-mile charity tractor trek to thank the public for backing British farming, with the help of Miss Bristol winner Meg Abernethy-Hope.
The 18-year-old blonde, an avid farming and rural life fan, who won the Miss Bristol and Avon 2015 beauty contest, will travel in a John Deere tractor for the whole journey.
Miss Abernethy-Hope is taking part in the joint charity run to show her support for the great work British farmers do feeding the nation and to thank doctors for saving her life after she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness last year.
The tractor run, supported by the NFU, will depart from Lands End on Thursday 1 October and arrive in John o’Groats six days later.
A John Deere 650R tractor, supplied by SW Hire, will lead the trek towing a 24ft trailer carrying the message “Thank you for supporting British farming”.
Unite British Farmers Tractor Tour stages
- Lands End to Exeter – 1 October
- Exeter to Bristol – 2 October
- Bristol to Uttoxeter – 3 October
- Uttoxeter to Gretna Green – 4 October
- Gretna Green to Fort William – 5 October
- Fort William to John o’Groats – 6 October
Tractor sponsor: S W Hire (Simon Williams)
Transport sponsor: Holbrook Services (Ashley Holbrook)
Tyre sponsor: B M Lewis (Ben and Simon Lewis)
Over the six days, dozens of farmers will join the convoy for up to 25 minutes at a time, to throw their support behind the run.
Farmers will also stop off during each stage of the run to talk to the public about the crisis in farming and how they can continue to support British farmers.
Organiser Steve Thomas told Farmers Weekly the mammoth tractor tour would carry a clear message: “Thank you to the public for supporting farmers in these hard times.”
Mr Thomas, 24, a self-employed farmworker and builder from Chippenham, Wiltshire, said: “The tour will be a massive thank you to the public to say we do appreciate what everyone is doing for farmers, who are struggling to earn money because of falling prices at the farmgate.
“We would like as many farmers as possible to come out and show their support by following us through towns and villages in their tractors for 10-15 minutes a time.”
Half of the proceeds raised from the trek will go to the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) to support its agricultural training programme.
The other half will be donated to the Above & Beyond charity, which raises funds for Bristol’s city centre hospitals.
Twelve months ago, Miss Abernethy-Hope, the charity’s ambassador, was close to death after she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
She is taking part in the run to say thank you to the doctors who saved her life as well as raise awareness of the Above & Beyond charity.
— Miss Bristol 2015 (@MissBristol2015) September 1, 2015
James Eckley, chief officer of the NFYFC, said: “We are grateful to Steve Thomas and the rest of the team in donating half of their proceeds to the NFYFC’s agricultural education programme.
“Farming in this country has received widespread attention over the past few weeks, with serious questions raised about how it can be sustained.
“The NFYFC is dedicated to supporting the next generation of British farmers and the money raised will go a long way in helping those members in their pursuit of a career in farming.”
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “The NFU is supportive of this initiative as it engages with the public in a positive way to promote our industry and to represent all the hard-working British farmers that provide quality food for our country.
“The NFU wishes the tractor ride team all the best and will support them as they share the Back British Farming message with communities and families across the country.
“We would endorse the Unite British Farmers aim to raise awareness of the increasing need for greater UK self-sufficiency in light of the current crisis facing the British farming industry.”
A Facebook page – Unite British Farmers Tractor Tour – and a Twitter account @unitefarmers has been set up to promote the run.
The hashtag #showusyourtractor is being used to promote the event. An online donations page will be set up shortly.
Farmers who would like to take part in the run, or companies interested in advertising on the trailer in exchange for a donation are urged to contact Mr Thomas on 07481 756 677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org