Teddies at the ready for fundraising tractor run


Jill Barrett
Jill Barrett
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A New Holland tractor filled with teddy bears is set to make its way through Dublin city centre this Saturday in an effort to raise funds for Irish children's charity, the LauraLynn Children's Hospice.

Tractor enthusiast Jill Barrett will be at the helm of the tractor that will be accompanied by more than 60 bucket collectors on Dublin's Grafton and O'Connell streets from 9am-6pm on Saturday.

From Celbridge in Co Kildare, Jill decided to organise the fundraiser to mark the 10-year anniversary since she and her sister Louise embarked on a 32-county tractor tour for LauraLynn in 2008.

"We travelled more than 1,800km around the country and raised over €35,000 on the tour and held some events afterwards which meant we raised €115,000 overall," says Jill.

Since Jill's father was an agri-sales manager at Kelly's in Kilcock and a part-time farmer, Jill adds that it was only natural that she used a tractor as her means of fundraising.

"I drove around the yard at home as a teenager and my first tractor was a Ford 3000 that had no engine. New Holland has sponsored the TF 230 tractor that I'll use to drive in Dublin," she says.

Jill says she is not phased by the drive through Dublin city, despite the increased number of Luas lines and buses in the city centre.

"I'm up for the challenge. The maximum speed limit in Dublin is 30km/h and my tractor can only do 30mph so it shouldn't affect anyone. There's a new luas line and taxis and buses but I'm sure the tractor will come out on top and make headlines for all the right reasons," says Jill.

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She chose to raise money for the charity in 2008 because she was struck by a documentary she saw at the age of 15 which showed the numerous children hospices across the UK and Northern Ireland but the Republic had none.

"There was a hospice in Belfast and Fermanagh and none in Ireland. I couldn't believe Ireland was so behind," she says.

"I also saw an interview with Jane McKenna on The Late Late Show who had lost two daughters Laura and Lynn to leukaemia and had set up the LauraLynn charity as a result, so I wanted to try and help raise funds."

While the LauraLynn Hospice eventually opened in 2011, Jill thinks it's more important than ever that fundraising efforts are made to make people aware of the charity.

"It's about raising awareness and reminding people of the vital supports it provides children and families all over Ireland when it comes to palliative care,"says Jill.

For more information, visit the Tractor Tour Facebook page. fb.me/tractorontour

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