Farmers raise £200,000 for Air Ambulance charity

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has smashed its centenary year fundraising target by raising £200,000 for the charity, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI). UFU president, Ivor Ferguson, says he has been blown away by the generosity of members, the rural community and industry partners. “We set what we thought was an ambitious target to raise £100,000 for this life-saving charity. True to form, the agriculture industry did not let us down.  Not only did we hit our target, we doubled it.”

On top of their day-to-day work UFU staff in Belfast and around Northern Ireland spent much of 2018 fundraising.  Activities ranged from selling calendars and books through to hiking five peaks across six counties in one day and ‘can’t cook won’t cook’ evenings.  “People really pulled out all the stops and their activities raised an incredible £186,000. The UFU has pledged £14,000 from its reserves, bringing the official centenary year total to £200,000,” said a delighted UFU president.

The AANI charity needs to raise around £2 million pounds a year to remain operational. Daily costs average £5,500 pounds. “It’s a service we all hope we, nor any one in our family, will never need but we will be forever grateful it is there if we do.  As UFU president in the centenary year no words can describe how proud I am of the massive effort people put in to prove that what looked an ambitious target was in fact modest,” said Mr Ferguson.

UFU past president, Barclay Bell, who chose the AANI charity for the organisation’s centenary year, added that it was impossible to thank individually everyone in the UFU and across the rural community who got behind the campaign to keep a vital service operating and saving lives.  “We are delighted with what has been achieved. Our fundraising efforts will fund 36 days of service. The air ambulance service brings critical care to anywhere in Northern Ireland, fast. It’s already making a difference in rural communities and has been called out to a number of farm incidents.  It’s a service that makes people in rural areas feel less isolated,” said Mr Bell.

Kerry Anderson, Head of Fundraising at AANI said, “UFU had faith in the air ambulance service at the earliest stage, committing endless enthusiasm and dedication to their fundraising efforts and exceeding all of our expectations. The service is theirs, just like it is yours and mine, and that passion to sustain and maintain it is apparent. In addition to the phenomenal total funds raised, the partnership generated substantial profile and awareness that would have been impossible for a fledgling charity to achieve in such a short period of time.  This has been the largest partnership that AANI has had and we thank everyone who has contributed. You are saving lives and are part of the history of sustaining your local air ambulance – thank you.”

HEMS operational lead, Glenn O’Rorke, added: “We have found that unfortunately, agricultural incidents occur frequently and can be life threatening – everything from cattle injuries, entrapments and crushing from farming equipment, machinery and vehicles.  The speed of arrival of the doctor/paramedic team enables critical care to start at a much earlier stage than would be possible without this service. That can mean the difference between life and death.”

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