Family of tragic farmer raise almost €8k for charity in his memory

Alistair Sloss with wife Roberta and daughters Rebekah and Sarah. Image: Belfast Telegraph.
Alistair Sloss with wife Roberta and daughters Rebekah and Sarah. Image: Belfast Telegraph.

Claire McNeilly

The family of a dairy farmer who tragically lost his life in a horrific farming accident has helped raise more than £7,000 for charity in his memory.

Father-of-five Alistair Sloss (52) died after being overcome by fumes and falling into a slurry tank at his farm near Coagh, Co Tyrone, on October 14, 2016.

His widow Roberta and their children - Jonathan (23), Rebekah (20), Sarah (17), David (15) and Naomi (9) - organised a tractor run to mark the first anniversary of his death and to heighten awareness of the dangers on farms.

The event, which was held on October 21, attracted 68 tractors and Mrs Sloss subsequently presented a cheque for £7,374 to Jane Robertson from Tearfund Northern Ireland, the Christian relief and development agency.

Mrs Sloss (51) said she felt it was a "fitting tribute to Alistair" whom she described as a "hard-working farmer who loved and was completely devoted to his family".

"It was a wonderful day and we were amazed by how many people came out to support us," she said.

"We are thrilled with the money we have been able to raise in memory of Alistair, and know it will make a difference to those living in extreme poverty.

"The family would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who came on the day and especially those who brought their tractors.

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"We also want to thank our sponsors and all who gave prizes and supported Tearfund generously with their donations. We're glad everyone enjoyed themselves."

In an interview following her husband's death, Mrs Sloss, an insurance broker, told of the dreadful realisation that Alistair - her partner of 27 years - had been so cruelly taken from their lives.

And she said one of the most difficult aspects of the tragedy was not only dealing with her profound loss but somehow finding the strength to remain strong for their children.

"It is difficult being a single parent," she said.

"But no matter what you feel yourself you have to put your children first. It's hard to get used to being one person; that I'm on my own. It's only the prayers of people and my own faith that's getting me through this, as well as support from my family and friends."

Paying tribute to her husband, whom she said was "completely devoted to his family", she added "there is just so much to miss".

Setting off from the family farm in Druminar, the local community watched the tractors pass through Coagh, Cookstown, Moneymore and The Loup.

After the tractor run there was food and entertainment at the family farm with music by country and western singer Neil Hobson, a bouncy castle for kids as well as a vintage tractor display.

There was also a raffle with prizes as local businesses generously donated a range of items.

The money raised will go towards supporting medical, and water and sanitation projects run by Tearfund and their overseas partners in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Egypt.

Ms Robertson thanked the Sloss family for their generous donation.

"The money raised will help us and our partners overseas provide access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation through projects in Uganda and Sierra Leone, as well as offering medical support to refugees in Egypt," she said.

"Access to clean water, sanitation and medical assistance prevents disease and death but also offers dignity and a hope for the future to those living in poverty or fleeing conflict."

Belfast Telegraph