Charity auction to aid the work of regional neonatal unit

Holstein NI's forthcoming Open Day has attracted tremendous support from businesses throughout the Province. Organisers are pictured with sponsors and trade exhibitors who have confirmed their attendance.
Holstein NI's forthcoming Open Day has attracted tremendous support from businesses throughout the Province. Organisers are pictured with sponsors and trade exhibitors who have confirmed their attendance.

Donations have been flooding in for the charity auction at Holstein NI’s forthcoming Open Day in County Antrim.

The one-day event on Saturday 22nd April is generously sponsored by Lacpatrick and Ecosyl from Volac, and will be hosted by the Smyth family from Cloughmills.

Pedigree breeders Conor Casey and Gareth Smyth from Cloughmills have donated heifer calves for the charity auction at Holstein NI's forthcoming Open Day. They are pictured with club chairman Tommy Henry and the March-born Ballyweaney Supersire Kim.

Pedigree breeders Conor Casey and Gareth Smyth from Cloughmills have donated heifer calves for the charity auction at Holstein NI's forthcoming Open Day. They are pictured with club chairman Tommy Henry and the March-born Ballyweaney Supersire Kim.

Among the numerous lots for auction are two deep-pedigreed Holstein heifer calves, numerous straws of semen from internationally acclaimed AI sires, a three-point front linkage tractor weight, a signed Ulster rugby jersey, garden furniture, dairy chemicals, animal feeds and a host of other items.

Proceeds from the family-orientated event will be donated to the Perinatal Trust Fund at the regional Neonatal Unit based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Hosts Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith Smyth, have donated the March-born heifer Ballyweaney Supersire Kim. This potential ninth generation VG/EX heifer calf was sired by Seagull Bay Supersire, and is the sixth calf bred from the 4,000gns Derrydorragh Shottle Kimo EX93 – reserve junior heifer in-milk and honourable mention intermediate champion at the 2011 Irish National Holstein Show.

Neighbouring herd owner Conor Casey has donated the three-month-old heifer calf Carnhill Solaris Lepha PLI £373. Sired by Seagull Bay MJ Solaris ET, she is backed by seven generations of VG and EX dams, and is bred from Carnhill Planet Lepha EX90 whose son Carnhill Lofty, and grandson Carnhill Lord Leslie, were sold to Genus ABS. One of 160 cows in the herd, Carnhill Planet Lepha traces back to the Canadian show cow SFL Enhancer Scarlett Red.

The Open Day is expected to attract visitors from throughout Ireland, and will incorporate Holstein NI’s annual stockjudging competition. Other attractions include cookery, flower arranging and jiving demonstrations, and a variety of craft stalls.

Younger visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy a host of activities including face painting, bouncy castle, assault course, pony rides and a quad bike train.

Gareth Smyth said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support pledged by businesses throughout the Province. More than 45 trade stands have confirmed their attendance, and we have been inundated with donations for the charity auction and raffle.

“As a family we are delighted to have the opportunity to host the open day and raise funds for the Perinatal Trust Fund. The Neonatal Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital cared for our twin sons, Wallace and Austin, who were born almost 16 weeks premature. They were in incubators in Intensive Care for the first few months and received one-to-one nursing.

“We are truly grateful for the dedication of the doctors and nurses who cared for our ‘miracle babies’, and we urge everyone to come along and enjoy the day, and more importantly, raise much-need funds for Northern Ireland’s regional neonatal unit.”

Holstein NI chairman Tommy Henry added: “The countdown is on ahead of Holstein NI’s 2nd annual Open Day. Last year’s event attracted more than 400 people and raised over £14,000 for the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University.

“The event offers something for everyone, and a warm invitation is extended to cattle enthusiasts, and the non-farming community, to come along and enjoy the Open Day. It’s all about fun and raising money for charity!”

The Open Day takes place from 11am to 4pm.

The farm is situated at 10 Ballyportery Road, Cloughmills, BT44 9BN, and will be signposted off the main A26 Frocess Road.