Two leading farming charities have split £74,000 after Farmers Guardian and JCB joined forces to host a live, online auction selling a unique JCB Loadall Agri PRO.
The huge cash boost has been donated to the Louise Hartley Memorial Fund, which offers scholarships to help young people start their farming careers, and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), which supports farmers suffering from mental health issues.
The one-of-a-kind telescopic handler, built by 68 JCB apprentices as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2017, was snapped up by East Yorkshire farmer Angus Wielkopolski.
Under the guidance of Chris Morris, the manufacturer’s apprenticeship adviser, young people from JCB sites across the country played their part in building the bespoke 40th anniversary edition of the popular telescopic handler.
The machine was built at the company’s Staffordshire headquarters and the six-month project saw the apprentices work across departments to manufacture the axles, gearbox, engine, hydraulics and cab, also choosing the colour scheme.
It is also the industry’s first telescopic handler to combine characteristics of powershift and hydrostatic drives.
The initiative was designed to highlight the individuals working in the company’s apprenticeship programme and generate an interest in attracting new talent for the future.
However, JCB always planned to auction the machine to raise money for charity following a similar initiative in 2010 which saw the company raise £70,000 for Help for Heroes through the bespoke construction of the Union Jack 3CX Eco Backhoe Loader.
Attending the presentation in Staffordshire last week, Angus, who runs a mixed farming operation across 800 hectares (2,000 acres) in Hull, was given the keys as he was met by the apprentices, representatives of both charities, and JCB chairman Lord Anthony Bamford.
Angus told Farmers Guardian: “I was looking to buy a machine for the farm and it was particularly timely when I heard about the online, charity auction.”
Lord Bamford, who completed an engineering apprenticeship before joining JCB in 1964, said: “JCB’s apprentices worked as a team and did a wonderful job manufacturing this unique Loadall.
“I am delighted one of our long-standing customers supported the charity auction, and that the £74,000 he paid is helping two such worthwhile charities connected with the farming community, of which we are such a close part.
“We are indebted to Farmers Guardian for their great support in organising the auction and suggesting the Louise Hartley Memorial Fund and RABI as beneficiaries, and to Yorkshire Dairy Goats for digging deep to buy this unique JCB machine.”
Thanks to the auction, £50,000 was donated to the Louise Hartley Memorial Fund, and this will be used to help finance the ambitions of young individuals as they develop their agricultural careers.
Last year, Farmers Guardian joined forces with the Louise Hartley Memorial Fund and launched a new scholarship to help young people progress in farming.
In May, two young farmers were awarded £2,000 each to further their farming careers.
Scottish new entrant Rory Gregor, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, is researching and patenting a way to improve sheep welfare, while Jess Simms, Northwich, Cheshire, is visiting Australia to study beef genetics with the aim of improving the Limousin herd she co-manages with her brother.
The legacy was launched in July 2016 after Louise died following a short battle with ovarian cancer.
Her mum, Sarah Hartley, said: “We are amazed by the generosity of this overwhelming amount for Louise’s scholarship fund and we would like to now roll out a larger bursary in line with the previous scholarship.”
Dad John Hartley said: “It is an obvious duty of us all to nurture the next generation, and if you believe any industry is important then you enable young people to excel in it as they are effectors of change.
“Aside from this, the ageing profile of our farmers is crying out for the dynamism of youth to balance the experience and wisdom we have and we will try our very best to ensure the money goes to deserving young people."
A total of £24,000 was donated to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) to be spent by its mental health division.
The charity regularly receives calls from working farmers and, on average, a quarter of callers had some form of mental health problem, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The charity helped more than 1,200 applicants last year, providing a total of £1.9 million in grants to farmers and families.
RABI’s welfare officers undertake courses in issues and are well-placed to help vulnerable farmers and their families.
Paul Burrows, RABI chief executive, said: “This donation of £24,000 to RABI will make a real difference to people’s lives and the money will go towards providing important financial assistance to people with mental health problems.
“Sometimes the illness leads to financial problems, but it can also be the other way around.
“For some people, tackling their financial problems can immediately relieve some of the stress, anxiety and worry.
“There will always be factors which can quickly cause distress to escalate but not seeking support when symptoms first emerge can make things much worse.
“Many people think being strong involves keeping your head down, working hard, getting on with things and not admitting there is a problem.
“We know this is not true and it takes courage to accept there is a problem, pick up the phone and seek help sooner rather than later. We can help.”
To find out more about RABI’s work and how it can help you, visit www.rabi.org.uk