Holstein open day raises £30,000 for neonatal unit
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
April 2016: Invitation to Holstein Open Day on 22nd April
Holstein Northern Ireland has announced details of a charity open day taking place later this month.
The one-day event on Saturday 22nd April will be hosted by the 150-cow Ballyweaney Herd owned by Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith Smyth, Hillcrest Farm, 10 Ballyportery Road, Cloughmills, Co Antrim, BT44 9BN.
Generously supported by principal sponsors Lacpatrick and Ecosyl from Volac, the open day will incorporate the club’s annual stockjudging event, and promises to be a fun-filled day for all members of the family. 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.
Holstein NI chairman John Berry said: “Last year’s inaugural open day in Armagh was a huge success, raising over £14,000 for the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB).”
Club vice-chairman 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. “
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 Years 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.
“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.
Watch press for further information or follow the dedicated facebook page ‘Holstein NI Family Open Day’.