Family’s massive charitable contribution from annual tractor run

The Sleight family receive the Hunter Cup for fundraising in aid of RABI. (L-R) John Sleight, Margaret Sleight and daughter Jenny with Minette Batters, deputy president of the NFU.
The Sleight family receive the Hunter Cup for fundraising in aid of RABI. (L-R) John Sleight, Margaret Sleight and daughter Jenny with Minette Batters, deputy president of the NFU.
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AN EAST Riding farming family has scooped a national award for their years of hard work fundraising for a charity close to the heart of the agriculture community.

The Sleight family from Etton, near Beverley, have been organising their annual tractor run for seven years and in that time have raised more than £12,500 for several charities including the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).

Parents Margaret and John and daughter Jenny started the tractor run in order to raise money for charities that help people when they are in need.

Jenny said: “Initially we decided to hold a tractor run because we wanted to organise a charity event and dad loves vintage tractors. The best thing about tractor runs is that people aged 16 and people aged 80 can all come along and take part and enjoy themselves.

“Over the years we have raised money for the neurology ward at Hull Royal Infirmary, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and RABI.”

At RABI’s annual general meeting this week, the Sleights were awarded the Hunter Cup which is presented to the individual or group of people who have successfully organised an on-farm event that has raised the most money and/or the greatest awareness of the charity and what it does.

The Sleights held the tractor run for the seventh time in 2014 and the event raised more than £4,000, which was split between RABI and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Jenny said: “Last year was incredibly special as dad led the tractors out after having had surgery on a brain tumour only weeks earlier.

“It’s a real family affair as my sister Catherine, her husband Stephen and sons Sam and Isaac come over from Lancashire and help me with everything from breakdowns and marshalling to collecting and counting the money.”

The Hunter Cup is one of seven annual awards given out by RABI to groups and individuals who support the invaluable work that the charity does to help farming families in times of need.

“It’s always wonderful to be recognised with awards like this, especially from one of the charities we have supported,” said Jenny.

The Sleight’s eighth tractor run will take place on Sunday, May 31 from Laburnum Farm in Etton.

Sally Conner, regional manager for RABI in Yorkshire and the North East, sang the praises of the Sleights after they became the latest Hunter Cup recipients.

“Not only do John and Margaret organise the Tractor Run every year for RABI and the Air Ambulance, they are passionate about helping others in need and attend nearly all our fundraising events,” she said.

“Proving it’s in their blood, Jenny also helps with the Tractor Run and is a member of RABI East Yorkshire Committee.”

Farmer David Burke from Langthorne, near Bedale, North Yorkshire, was also honoured by the charity with a trustee award for his work both on his local committee and organising fundraising events around the region.

Sally said: “We are delighted that David has received a trustee’s award - he has been a true friend as well as chairman of the North Yorkshire committee and I can’t thank him and his wife Betty enough for all the help and support over the last eight years.”

Also at the meeting Carol Rymer, from Southburn, near Driffield, stood down as a RABI trustee after completing two four-year terms.

She will be replaced by Jeanette Dawson, principal at Bishop Burton College.

RABI has a distinguished history of providing support to farming families across the country. In 2014 it awarded almost £2 million to 1,394 individuals and families.

Sally said: “We help people with everything from paying utility bills and council tax arrears, rent and bankruptcy fees, to paying for funerals, heating, clothing and even food.”

To talk to RABI confidentially, call the charity’s helpline on 0300 303 7373.