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Charity bike ride hoping to raise £100,000 for farming community

A mammoth charity bike ride across the UK in a bid to raise £100,000 will be coming through Co Armagh next month.

The relay, organised by farmers across the UK, began outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (June 20), and will be touring around the principal feed mills, ports, grain stores and supply trade businesses sites in the UK to help raise money for the Farming Community Network (FCN).

The marathon 3,500 mile journey will traverse the length and breadth of the UK, visiting over 170 different sites representing over 75 companies. The relay finishes at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on July 31.

The relay will travel from Belfast, through Co Armagh, before arriving in Newry at Cefetra Ltd on July 17.

The relay will start again from the same site the following morning (July 18) and stop at Tullyherron Farm Feeds, Mountnorris before going on towards Co Tyrone

All monies raised are being donated to FCN, a charity that supports members of the farming community through difficult times.

FCN is made up of over 400 volunteers across the country, most of whom have a farming background and understand the issues farmers regularly face.

The charity, which supports approximately 6,000 people every year, runs a confidential national helpline which is open every day of the year from 7am-11pm.

Richard Cooksley, one of the organisers, said: “With considerable economic and political pressures of farm businesses, GAFTA and UK Grain and Feed Trade Associations, which are an integral part of UK farming community have committed to do something significant to support the farming industry.

“The aim of the relay is to help raise awareness of the issues facing farmers, while at the same time raising funds to provide on-going support for all members of the farming community and their families. We hope as many people in the industry as possible will turn out to support the relay and help us achieve our target.”

Charles Smith, Chief Executive of FCN, said: “The stresses and strains of farming, the isolation of the work and the uncertainty that the industry faces all means that the farming community is highly susceptible to poor mental health.

“Approximately one farmer a week in the UK takes their own life. FCN is there to support those who are struggling to cope with life on the farm. Whether the issue is personal or business-related, our volunteers are on hand to support those who seek our help, for as long as it takes.

“However, we rely on donations in order to carry out this important work, which is why we are so grateful to GAFTA and UK Grain and Feed Trade Associations for their support. The money raised from this bike ride is essential in helping us continue this potentially life-saving work.”

To donate to the fund and support FCN in the invaluable work it does for the industry, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/GAFT.

Further information about the bike ride, including details about how to take part, is available at http://www.gaft2018.uk/home/.

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