Tractor convoy raises £20k for cancer charity helping Andrew fight leukaemia
A gallant effort by hundreds of tractor drivers and supporters of a young man diagnosed with leukaemia has raised more than £20,000 for charity.
The money, which will go to the Friends of the Cancer Centre, was raised by the Moneyrea Young Farmers' Club (YFC) in their annual tractor road run.
The club decided to support the charity after one of their members, Andrew Gill, was diagnosed with leukaemia in June. The charity has been a great support to him ever since.
Club chair Linzi Stewart said: "The Friends of the Cancer Centre has been a great support to Andrew and his family since his diagnosis.
"The club decided to raise money for the charity as a way of thanking them for making what has been a very difficult time that bit easier for Andrew and his family, and our annual tractor run was the perfect opportunity to do this.
"It was incredible to see so many people take part as well as so many come along to spectate and support the Gill family.
"The support we received in the lead-up to the tractor run and on the day itself was wonderful, and we can't thank people enough for getting behind us to support Andrew.
"The club and Andrew's family are thrilled that the event went well and, most importantly, raised so much money."
Although Andrew was in Belfast City Hospital for a chemotherapy session when the run was scheduled, doctors allowed him to leave for a few hours so he could take part, leading the convoy. "I was totally overwhelmed at the number of people who took part in the road run and it was such an incredible sight to see over 350 vehicles attending on the night," he said. "I never thought that there would be so many people attending and it gave me such a lift to see everyone there.
"I was even more surprised when the local Massey Ferguson dealership allowed me to take part in the convoy in a brand new tractor. Along the way, people were shouting and waving when they recognised me. It was such a great night and it meant so much to me as Friends of the Cancer Centre have been there for me and my family, especially Renee Reid, who is Friends of the Cancer Centre's clinical nurse specialist for teenagers and young adults. Renee has been so helpful to me and my family when we needed advice, information and support.
"I still can't believe how much was raised and, on behalf of my family, I want to say a huge thank you to each and every person who came along and supported us."
Friends of the Cancer Centre is currently funding 28 additional staff in the Cancer Centre, including doctors, nurses and researchers, and the charity is committed to raising at least £5m over the next three years to fund ongoing and new projects, which will continue to support local cancer patients. Sarah Breen, the fundraising officer for Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: "Moneyrea YFC are fantastic supporters and they've done exceptionally well in raising so much money for Friends of the Cancer Centre. I would like to thank the club members for all their hard work in organising such an incredible event, and everyone who took part ...
"The money raised will make a very big difference to the lives of patients and their families right across Northern Ireland."