Belper Young Farmers plan tractor run to Cleethorpes for Air Ambulance

From left, James Booth, Matt Woodhouse, Alfie Riley, and John Armitage  are driving a tractor to Cleethorpes to raise money for the Air Ambulance.
From left, James Booth, Matt Woodhouse, Alfie Riley, and John Armitage are driving a tractor to Cleethorpes to raise money for the Air Ambulance.

A group of young farmers from Belper are taking the slow road to the coast this week, in a six hour tractor pull raising money for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance.

John Armitage, James Booth, Matt Woodhouse, and Alfie Riley will take it in turns to drive the tractor en route to Cleethorpes on Friday, March 1, for the national Young Farmers’ Club convention.

For John, 22, who farms animals in his spare time around a day job at a brickworks , the trip is a particularly poignant one.

He said: “We’re doing this in memory of two farmers who lost their lives while working. One was my grandad, Alan Painter, who did a lot for young farmers in the Alfreton area until he was run over by a tractor about seven years ago.

“My uncle inherited his farm and so it has carried on in the family through to me.

“The other is Ashley Holden, who was only 27 when he died in an accident last November. Ash was the chair another farmers’ club near Pleasley and we’d worked together. I knew him well.”

John added: “The Lincolnshire Air Ambulance tried to save him, and the service does a lot for farmers everywhere. It’s such a dangerous industry, often in remote areas, and the Air Ambulance is the likeliest thing to save someone’s life.

“The Young Farmers has recently been running a care module, training people how to work safely with machinery and animals, so it all fits together.”

The team will set off from the Triangle in Belper at 8am on Friday, and travel through the back roads of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire until their journey ends 100 miles away on the sands of Cleethorpes beach.

The tractor belongs to John and it will be pulling a trailer advertising some of the local businesses which have supported the effort.

It rarely goes much further than nearby fields, but John is confident it will go the distance with a support vehicle following all the way, swapping over driving duties, making it a true team effort.

John said: “We do a lot of fundraising activities for the club and charities throughout the year. This one was my idea, because I had that connection to both Alan and Ashley, but it would not be possible without the rest of the guys. “We’ll be collecting however we can along the road. I hope we’ll be able to put the tractor on display somewhere during the convention, and carry on fundraising.”

Young Farmers is a nationwide organisation, with members ages 10-26, introducing them to different aspects of farm life. There are nine clubs in Derbyshire alone.

John said: “We’ll meet up every Wednesday night in Belper and go around farms learning about things like stock-judging, auctioneering, or a factory tour.

“Then we’ll do lots of social nights like bowling or paintballing, and there are always competitions going on between clubs.”

He added: “Young Farmers also run support groups so you can access help if you ever need advice for financial worries and things like that. The biggest concern for the whole sector at the moment is the uncertainty of Brexit.”

The team has already raised around £500, and hopes to top £1,000 by their journey’s end. To make a donation, go to https://goo.gl/FaKczq.

The Air Ambulance charity operates two helicopters flying an average six missions a day across five counties.

An essential service in rural communities, it provides a rapid response to trauma and medical emergencies over an area of 3,850 square miles.

It receives no government funding, and is therefore dependent on volunteer fundraising activities to stay in the air. For more information, go to theairambulanceservice.org.uk.