The route for a fundraising tractor and trailer run is finalised, and will take the Energy Now Expo drive through the counties of Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
The run aims to raise over £10,000 for Forage Aid – and is being planned for early February next year, 12 months to the day when the Somerset Levels flooding crisis hit national headlines. The rural route will start from Sedgemoor and end in Telford on February 11, the opening day of the Energy Now Expo.
Cheques and pledges will be picked up en route, with a series of stops being planned at key renewable energy companies who are based along the way.
“There’s a definite need for a fund-raising event that will put money in the bank for Forage Aid,” says event director, David Jacobmeyer. “We saw the wonderful work this team did last year, and are delighted to be working with them in starting something very exciting that will really support farmers in the future.”
JCB is supplying a 4000 series tractor to tow a trailer that is being supplied by Bailey Trailers. Both companies did much to support Forage Aids’ efforts in the area earlier this year. Young farmers are enthusiastically supporting the event, doing the bulk of the driving on the 170-mile trip, come rain or shine.
“The link with the Energy Now event is an obvious one, with farmers looking at how to weatherproof their units, to help safeguard their businesses in the future, especially in times of crisis and looking for reliable new income streams.
“For example, a well thought out renewable energy scheme, such as solar PV or a biomass heater, will enable its owner to be more energy self-sufficient, providing power and/or heat throughout the year, even during horrendous storms,” says David.
Forage Aid is not just about providing feed for stock, explains the man behind the hugely successful operation, Lincolnshire farmer Andrew Ward.
“We want to be ready to help in any emergency,” he says.
“We have proved what a handful of farmers spread across the country can pull together in a time of crisis – now we need to step up another gear and offer a service where immediate aid can be co-ordinated when there’s a natural disaster.
“It’s a reality that access to funding can sometimes take months, and that rural areas and people suffer while paperwork is being processed. Our aim is to step in quickly and help when necessary.”
Some of the first funds raised will be used to develop a Forage Aid website that will allow pledges to be taken on line, and manage some of the significant logistics involved with a national crisis.
With approximately 12 stops planned en route – at both existing renewable energy schemes and places of work – these companies will be challenged to raise a sum of money each to swell the Forage Aid coffers. Activities to raise the funds will be left to individual businesses to plan, and it’s hoped that many of the Energy Now exhibitors will dig deep to add to the funds.
One stop off along the route will be a biogas plant in Peterchurch, Herefordshire. The company who installed the plant, PlanET biogas UK, have already donated a generous sum to the Forage Aid cause.
“Young Farmers are already getting behind the drive,” says Essex county chairman Ed Ford. “They are keen to see funds raised for Forage Aid, and while there is still some final planning to do, we will soon be at the point where we can announce the route, and some of the drivers who will be taking part.”
To register for the Energy Now Expo, the renewable energy event behind the fundraising drive, visit www.energynowexpo.co.uk or call 01293 854405.