Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Staff in bid to save farmer's livelihood

A Co Antrim man has spoken of how his workers have clubbed together to aid a stricken farmer who faces losing his livelihood after his lambing shed collapsed in last weekend's snow storm.

Workers from Thornton Roofing are preparing to travel almost 40 miles from Toomebridge to Glenariff to deliver a temporary structure for James McHenry (above), who said this week he fears his 50-year farming career is over after heavy snow caused the destruction of a building containing many of his animals.

He had brought the animals inside to lamb away from the harsh conditions but many were killed or trapped when the roof caved in under the weight of falling snow.

Now, without shelter, his ewes and newborn lambs are becoming snow-bound and vulnerable to attack by crows, foxes and other vermin.

Stephen Thornton, from Thornton Roofing in Toomebridge, heard about James' plight and said that the farmer's situation was "the talk of the yard" among the firm's 50 employees.

Thornton Roofing was established in 1965 as a family venture by James and Kathleen Thornton and the management team now includes their sons Stephen, Mark and Jim Thornton and their sister, Jenny Neeson.

"We were all talking about it in the yard and said we needed to do something," said Stephen.

"We just wanted to see if we could give a bit back, James sounded so gutted. We're in the roofing business and we have the expertise so we decided to see if we could help out.

"I went down to the farm to survey the site and we have a team of people working on a temporary shelter that can at least give the animals a bit of respite that we can hopefully get to him on Thursday or Friday.

"Things are hard in the construction industry but it's nothing like what James is facing, he is talking about having to leave farming altogether because he has lost so many sheep and lambs.

"Hopefully we can do something to keep him going."