Hunts, shoots and other fieldsports enthusiasts from across the country have rallied to help those affected by this winter?s floods, with many going more than the proverbial extra mile to see that aid gets to those who need it most.
Countrysports people have been involved in the campaign to provide relief for stricken farmers ? which has been dubbed ?Forage Aid? ? by donating fodder, bedding, transport, time and organisational skills.
Yorkshire farmer Phil Rowbottom, a competitive clay Shot and former member of the England ESP team, led a convoy of tractors loaded with 15 tons of silage, haylege and straw on a 10-hour trip from Yorkshire to Somerset.
Mr Rowbottom, who runs Mount Farm Sporting Clays, a golf club and an arable farm, said: ?We deliberately wanted to take the donations by tractor and trailer to help highlight the plight of farmers so desperately in need on the Somerset Levels. The response from the local farming community has been amazing ? in fact, it only took a day to get more than we needed for a single load.?
He added: ?Hopefully our journey will help highlight the solidarity we all feel with those farmers in Somerset who are facing such tough times. We hope drivers will give us a hoot on their horns when they see us en route to spur us on.
?Yorkshire has had its fair share of severe flooding, so we know only too well the heartbreak it can bring. Seeing the situation develop over recent days in Somerset left many of us wanting to help and show just how the farming industry can respond. I personally don?t have any fodder or bedding to offer, but what I do have is the time to drive a load ? actually, it?s often the logistics of getting donations to where they are needed that?s the difficult bit.?
Hunts across the country have also donated resources to the campaign, including the Taunton Vale, the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, the Quorn, the Belvoir, the Cottesmore and the North Cotswold. The Prince?s Countryside Fund, the Duke of Westminster and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution have also offered financial support, while supermarket chains Tesco and Asda have offered the use of trucks to help farmers.
The Countryside Alliance (CA) has set up a page on its website with links to current flood warnings and detailing ways to offer financial and practical help to those flooded and dealing with the aftermath of flooding.
Executive chairman of the CA Barney White-Spunner said: ?At this heartbreaking time for the farmers and residents caught by the floods it is very cheering to see the countryside pulling together to help them. Consignments of animal feed will be driven down to Somerset this week from hunts across the UK and donations are also pouring in from fellow farmers, businesses and the public.?
He added: ?While we are powerless to stop the weather we can all help to make life a little more bearable for those suffering the worst of the floods.?
For information on how to help, visit www.countryside-alliance.org.