Farmers save the day – from 350 miles away

Trevor Hembrow set off from Southend at 3am to deliver the hay to Rob Dyson at Puncherton, 359 miles away.
Trevor Hembrow set off from Southend at 3am to deliver the hay to Rob Dyson at Puncherton, 359 miles away.

A north Northumberland hill farmer, hard hit by severe weather in the run-up to lambing, has taken delivery of 27 tonnes of hay donated free by two farmers in Essex – just days before his supply ran out.

Rob Dyson, who farms at remote Puncherton in the Coquet Valley, contacted the National Farmers Union when it became clear he would run out of fodder for his 450 sheep and 25 cattle.

“The harsh winter, which has seen our sheep facing snow, freezing temperatures and biting winds at a very vulnerable time in the run-up to lambing, has meant providing them with a lot of extra feed,” he said.

“After Easter it became clear I did not have enough fodder to get them through to the point where spring grass is finally beginning to emerge so I spoke to the NFU to see if they could help.”

As luck would have it, an offer of a free load of hay had just been received from two NFU members in Essex – arable farmers Rob Stacey and Roger Burroughs.

Together they made up a load of 72 bales weighing 27 tonnes and worth more than £1,500. TR Doidge, a haulier from Cornwall, offered to provide the haulage at cost and these costs are being met by farming charity The Addington Fund.

The load completed the 353-mile journey north in seven hours.

Roger said: “Although we are all arable now, we used to have sheep and cattle, so when Rob Stacey contacted me to suggest making the donation, I was delighted to be involved.

“I know how hard livestock farming can be and obviously we’ve all seen how tough this winter has been on the hills.

“I was more than happy to match Rob’s contribution and make up the 27-tonne load.

“I’ve spoken to Rob Dyson and so know it is going to a good home. Our aim here is to help a fellow farmer in what is clearly a very difficult situation and encourage others to follow suit.”

Rob said: “I am hugely grateful to everyone involved in this operation – obviously Roger and Rob, but also the hauliers, Addington Fund and the NFU.

“Together they have made this possible, and it really will make all the difference for me as I am now in the thick of lambing. It has been a sterling effort.”

NFU regional director Barney Kay said this is a classic example of how the farming industry pulls together in time of adversity.

He said: “This is a very heart-warming story and it is great to see such a positive outcome from what was a dire situation.”