Ulster’s favourite farmer, Rory Best, has managed to raise more than £700,000 (€810,000) through a gruelling 180-mile challenge to support a children’s cancer charity.

Best, who farms in Poyntzpass, on the Armagh/Down border, had initially aimed to raise £500,000 for the Cancer Fund for Children. However, widespread public support saw the star gather an exceptional £700,000 for the charity in just a few months.

Rory’s Miles 2 Mayo challenge saw him walk the 200 miles from Daisy Lodge, the charity’s therapeutic short break centre in Newcastle, Co. Down, to the site of their proposed new Daisy Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo.

The 10-day challenge took place in September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and saw Rory return home just in time for Balmoral Show.

 Last year, the charity helped support 1,500 children and young people through their journey with cancer.

Rory Best

Speaking after the challenge, Rory Best said: “I have just been blown away by the support I have received.

“It has made those 200 miles, 370,000 steps and ice baths worthwhile.

“I would like to thank everyone who has got behind me on this challenge – my wife Jodie, my kids, my family and friends, our incredible sponsors, my amazing support team, and of course everyone who has and continues to donate so generously.”

The money raised will help Cancer Fund for Children provide therapeutic short breaks to children diagnosed with cancer and their families at Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, Co. Down.

It will also help the charity to build a much-needed second Daisy Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo.

“For every child they can support, there are another six they cannot,” Best explained.

“When I arrived in Cong, I said that children with cancer need to get the best support once they leave hospital, and when they need respite breaks, they can come to places like Daisy Lodge in Newcastle and Mayo where they get to be treated like the stars they are. This is only the beginning.

“The walk to Cong may be over but the journey to a Daisy Lodge in Co. Mayo has just begun,” Best added, urging his supporters to continue to support the Cancer Fund for Children.

Cancer Fund for Children’s chief executive Phil Alexander added: “This is an incredible effort by Rory Best and we cannot thank him, his wife Jodie, family, friends and our sponsors enough. Thank you so much to everyone who donated. 

“It is our hope that Rory has motivated and inspired others to do whatever they can to help us support families with a cancer diagnosis and ensure that no child ever has to face cancer alone.”

The JustGiving page for Rory’s Miles 2 Mayo can be found here.