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Outstanding in their field... massive charity tractor run gives ill Andrew a real fillip

By Chris McCullough

Published 13/08/2016

Aerial view of the huge turnout of tractors for the run in aid of Friends of the Cancer Centre
Aerial view of the huge turnout of tractors for the run in aid of Friends of the Cancer Centre
Andrew Gill

If you were travelling around the Castlereagh Hills on Thursday night the chances are that you ran across hundreds of tractors on the roads.

The machinery was not there due to any farming activity, but had travelled to Hillmount Garden Centre to set off on a charity 12-mile road run in aid of the Friends of the Cancer Centre.

The event raised over £13,500 for the charity, with funds still trickling in.

There is also a GoFundMe page in aid of the event.

A whopping 281 tractors turned up along with several trucks to make up the huge convoy that snaked its way around the hills and beyond. Many more tractors joined the procession as it went along.

The huge event was organised by Moneyrea YFC, whose member Andrew Gill was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year.

Andrew was allowed to leave hospital for a few hours on Thursday to attend the event. He drove a brand new Massey Ferguson tractor at the front of the convoy before heading back into hospital that night for more chemotherapy.

Andrew said: "I started another session of chemotherapy on Monday but the doctors allowed me to leave on Thursday around 3pm to attend the event.

"I wasn't feeling so good but managed to get a few hours sleep before the tractor run started at 7pm. When I arrived there I was totally overwhelmed to see so many people had turned up to support us.

"Over 280 tractors were in the field plus several trucks. I was totally overwhelmed to see so many people come to support the cause. It really gave me a lift. I was even more surprised when the local Massey Ferguson dealership allowed me to drive a brand new tractor around the route.

"People were waving and shouting when they recognised me in the convoy.

"It really was encouraging to see everyone there. I want to thank everyone who came and supported us." President of the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster, Roberta Simmons, was also taking part as a passenger in a tractor.

She said: "Congratulations to Moneyrea YFC for organising such a successful tractor run with 281 tractors and over 40 trucks. It was a fantastic night for such a worthwhile cause in aid of Friends of the Cancer Centre and support of Moneyrea YFC member Andrew Gill. It was great to see Andrew present and I wish him well in his treatment."

People came from all over the province to support the event, including tractors from Bushmills, Ballymena and Portaferry.

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