The Archbishop of Wales tried out a 7.5 tonne JCB tractor today which a vicar has been driving across Wales this week to highlight the plight of farmers.
Dr Barry Morgan met Revd Richard Kirlew at Llandaff Cathedral on the final day of his 700 mile steeplechase trip to all the cathedrals in Wales. Richard, who is the Church in Wales’ national lead on rural affairs, set out on Monday and has already been to St Davids, Bangor, St Asaph and Newport. He left Llandaff for Brecon, the final leg of the trip, and will be met at the cathedral there this afternoon (Sat 4pm) by the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies.
Richard hopes to raise at least £3,000 for three charities – the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution; Farm Crisis Network and The Colwyn Benefice (Richard’s very small group of very rural parishes in the Radnorshire Hills). Accompanied by his wife, Liz, and the couple have been sleeping in a caravan towed by the JCB. Maximum speed was 40mph, but Richard said fellow drivers were extremely patient on all the roads.
He said, “We have been overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement we’ve had along the way and want to thank everyone for their patience. We’ve pulled in regularly to let faster drivers pass and lorries have flashed their lights in a supportive way! The main aim has been to raise awareness of the problems facing rural communities in Wales – there’s a perception everyone living in the countryside is rich but poverty, declining village life and isolation are real issues which are getting worse.”
Archbishop Barry said, “This is an excellent way to raise awareness of the problems in rural areas and the invaluable work of the charities. Our clergy serving in rural parishes see at first hand, and on a daily basis, the hardship and suffering of those communities and as a church we want to help and support them as much as we can.”
Erys Hughes, regional officer of the RABI, who has followed Richard for much of the trip, said, “For the RABI, it’s not about raising money as much as raising awareness that we are here to help. Farmers are a very proud lot and don’t want to admit they are struggling – many are not even aware of the help we can give them. But the past 11 years have been very difficult for them, what with foot-and-mouth disease, floods, swine flu, the collapse of the dairy industry and bovine TB and we have seen a huge increase in demand for help.”
The tractor is on loan from JCB UK Ltd through J E Lawrence, Agricultural Engineers in Pembrokeshire. Fuel for the trip was paid for by sponsor Mole Valley Farmers who have branches in Carmarthen and Bridgend.
If anybody would like to sponsor Richard please get in touch via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please contact:
Archbishop's Media Officer / Swyddog y Cyfryngau i'r Archesgob
Tel: 02920 348208; mobile: 07 91 91 587 94
39 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff / 39 Heol y Gadeirlan, Caerdydd
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