Machinery News

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A day driving a Claas combine up for grabs at cancer charity auction
Among the prizes on offer this weekend at a major charity auction is a day driving a Claas combine
at Hall Farm, Fornham St Martin, in Suffolk.

The opportunity to experience an activity that many of us in the agricultural industry take for granted is expected to raise a large sum of money for charity this weekend.
Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction and Ball is organised by Gina Long who, with her husband Andrew, farms at Hall Farm, Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and among a huge list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes on offer is the opportunity to spend a day on the farm’s Claas combine.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was set up by Sir Bobby to raise 500,000 to help equip a cancer trials research centre and, having raised that amount in just seven weeks, he decided to continue the work and raise more funds to help others affected by the disease. Sir Bobby died of the disease in 2009, but the charity continues its work, trustees including his widow Elsie, and to date has raised more than 5 million pounds.

Gina, a friend of the Robson family for many years, wanted to help raise money for Sir Bobby’s charity and, in 2011, arranged the first charity auction which raised almost 250,000. Inspired by the success of the last event, Gina and her team have set themselves a target of 1,000,000 and, with an incredible selection of prizes on offer, and enthusiastic bidding having been taking place since the 10th of October, success by the time bidding closes this Sunday looks likely.

Andrew and Gina are the third generation of the Long family to farm the land at Fornham St Martin. Arable crops include potatoes, onions, cereals and sugar beet and the land farmed extends to approximately 1,300ha (3,200 acres). The fleet of machinery is kept well up to date, and Andrew said that he is very aware of the intrigue created by large machinery seen working in the fields. “The combine driving experience was something that I could offer from the farm,” he explained. “In the agricultural industry we take the large machinery for granted, but for most people, operating a combine is something they will never be able to experience. We have a Claas Lexion 750 on TerraTracs with a 9m header and it is very impressive. By offering this as a prize we can help make someone’s dream come true, and it raises money for these very worthwhile and deserving charities.”

Andrew offered a similar prize for the auction in 2011, and the winning bid was 800. The winner had always wanted to experience driving a combine, and we called him when the weather was good and we were starting harvesting oilseed rape early in the 2012 harvest, and he came along and very much enjoyed his day. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he asked for a second day in the driver’s seat, for which he donated a further 800, which he spent harvesting wheat.”

As well as the Claas combine driving day, prizes on offer include trips to the French Grand Prix in a private jet, the use of exotic villas, VIP tickets to the 2014 Champions League Final in Portugal, works of art, luxury holidays and cruises, and days out with celebrities as well as many more fabulous money-can’t buy experiences, and bidding finishes on Sunday (27th October).

As of Friday lunchtime bidding for the combine was up to 280 with 25 bidders so far. A day’s shooting for one gun on the Hall Farm Shoot was auctioned, along with many other items, at the Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Ball, which was held in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 24th October as a part of the final weekend’s fundraising and it achieved a winning bid of 3,200. “I was delighted,” said Andrew, “and am very much looking forward to what is expected to be a frantic day of bidding on Sunday, and to hopefully raising even more money this year for the day on the combine.”

Details of all the prizes on offer are on-line, and details are on the charity website;
or bids can be placed direct at;

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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