Brave farm girl Grace inspires marts to drop the hammer for charity

The brave battle of an eight-year-old farmer’s daughter has inspired Northern Ireland’s farming community to rally together for heart disease charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

Grace Powell from Keady, Co. Armagh was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) during a neonatal scan.

She underwent surgical procedures at just three and six months old, before undergoing major heart surgery at the age of five.

Over the last six years, her father Richard Powell has raised thousands for Children’s Heartbeat Trust through the family’s business – farm supply firm WK Powell & Son.

Grace Powell and her family are aiming to raise £50,000 for the Children's Heartbeat Trust
Shaun Irvine, Ballymena Livestock Market; Grace Powell; Richard Powell; Lynn Cowan, Children’s Heartbeat Trust; and Hampton Hewitt, Markethill Livestock Market

Powell has already pledged two Charolais heifers – one for each of the auctions. He bought the heifers to donate; a tradition he started a few years ago.

“I always say they’re donated on behalf of our customers and everyone who has supported us over the years. Our customers have been very good to us so I keep an eye out for something nice during the year,” he said.

As well as their feed and fertiliser business, the family runs around 150 cattle on their farm in Keady.

£50,000 target

But this year, they wanted to do even more, and teamed up with two local livestock markets to hold two charity livestock auctions.

The actions will take place at Markethill Livestock Sales on Thursday, November 23, at 7:00pm, and Ballymena Market on Thursday, November 30, at 6.30pm.

They hope to hit the hammer price of £50,000 – enough to purchase a new portable echocardiogram machine for the Children’s Heart Centre being developed at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

The events, held in association with Gleno Young Farmers, will each include a Christmas show and sale of beef cattle, prime lambs and an auction of donated items to raise funds for the charity.

Richard Powell said: “Children’s Heartbeat Trust has given our family so much support and help since Grace was born, and throughout her surgeries and treatment.

We’ve helped raise funds each year through the sale of various cattle but, on hearing about the development of the new Children’s Heart Centre, we wanted to do that bit more.

“I approached Hampton at Markethill Mart with the idea of holding an auction to raise additional funds for the charity. Hampton came back with the suggestion of teaming with Shaun from Ballymena Mart to raise the target of £50,000.

“I would sincerely like to thank Hampton for his full input and backing; and to Shaun for teaming up with us to raise the funds needed for this vital piece of equipment.

“I’m grateful for the generous support received to date and with everyone’s input I have no doubt our target can be achieved.”

Lynn Cowan, Children’s Heartbeat Trust fundraiser, said: “Richard and his family have been so incredibly supportive of the charity’s work, and we are deeply grateful to the markets for joining with Richard to facilitate the auctions, and everyone who has donated auction items.”

An online donation page has been set up for anyone wishing to support the cause.

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