Inter-county 'tractor football'match for heart awareness
Preparations are at fever pitch for the 2016 National Ploughing Championships. At this stage the site infrastructure in Tullamore is complete and stand layouts are being finalised. Much of the heavy machinery gear will move onsite over the coming days in anticipation of record crowds for the three-day event.
One really worthwhile health initiative that caught my eye for this year's event is Ireland's first heart failure awareness campaign aimed at farmers.
The 'Know Heart Failure Now' campaign aims to increase awareness of heart failure, a medical condition that currently affects 90,000 people in Ireland.
With the prevalence increasing, up to one in five people will develop heart failure at some point during their lifetime. To help raise awareness of the condition, a special heart failure tractor football tournament is being held to encourage the farming community to better take care of their hearts.
As part of the campaign, free tests will be offered to Ploughing punters to assess their risk of developing a heart condition.
The Offaly versus Laois, three-a side tractor football teams will battle it out in New Holland tractors supplied by local dealer WR Shaw; the game will involve the tractors trying to get the massive seven foot football through the posts.
As part of the campaign, the 'Know Heart Failure Now' stand, hosted in the Health and Wellness tent at the Ploughing, will invite visitors to speak to healthcare professionals about the symptoms and risk factors of heart failure. The campaign is being supported by the Heart Failure Patient Alliance and Novartis Ireland Ltd.
Commenting on the importance of the heart failure awareness initiative, Anna May McHugh, managing director of the NPA said: "Tractors are at the heart of the farming community and many of us could be accused of looking after our tractors better than our own heart health.