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  • 32 Counties Bale Challenge

    I was recently asked why we get behind so many charity events throughout the year; and it got me thinking.

    Unfortunately, not every day at Grassmen is a happy one, and we felt this first hand in October 2015. We were invited to be involved in a tractor run called the ‘Monster Tractor Run’, which was being held in Virginia, Co Cavan for two very sick local lads Cian and Jake who were both going through treatment. The whole community had pulled together for the tractor run but tragically, Cian passed away just 5 days before. Very bravely, the organisers decided to proceed with the tractor run in Cian’s memory, and still for the aid of little Jake, who has since been through bone marrow treatment. On this night, there were balloons released in memory of young Cian, and I found myself taken aback, contemplating how such a young life was taken too soon.

    Strangely, in a few days time my own family was set to never be the same again as my wife and I were expecting our first child. The drastic comparison played in my mind, and as Director of Grassmen, I knew from that moment that it could be used to help raise both money and awareness for local children’s charities. It was also during this tractor run that I was astounded by the support others offered this charity, as before this tractor run an airbag went in the lorry and being so far from home, we didn’t know what way to turn! Fortunately, we had met Martin, who through a local transport company, was able to fix our problem and wouldn’t even take a penny for the work.

    It was at this moment I realised that this event didn’t only move me, but it affected a number of others who attended, namely Martin and his friend Floyd (who both went on to set up the Active Agri Association) who would later be recognised as the brains behind the 32 Counties Bale Challenge. These men realised just how hard it would be to organise an event like this, and knowing that we weren’t just a group of people with a bunch of cameras, that turned up to planned events and took the glory – Instead we got out shoulder behind the wheel, got the job done, and this is why they wanted us on board.

    Now, we knew it was going to be a daunting challenge but we didn’t realise just how much of a task it was! As Gary and myself gave up a week for a humanitarian aid trip to Romania in 2016, we wanted to do something along the same lines but this time closer to home to allow us to involve the rest of the Grassmen team with us (drivers, film crew etc).

    It is safe to say that if you don’t ask, you don’t get and we were very lucky that the friends of Grassmen were so generous behind the scenes. There were a lot of people willing to donate time and resources, one being our own fuel supplier J&R Fuels for filling us all up before we set off, thanks to Russell Craig! Another thanks must go to CIP Insurance, especially Gary for insuring the different tractors, drivers and the event as a whole. Although I’m pretty sure he will get it back off me through time!!

    Most people will by now know that we have a great working relationship with Country Crest farming in Dublin and when Michael Hoey heard of our plans (to which he replied you are as mad as a brush) nothing would do but he insisted we call into Country Crest and receive a fill of diesel all round. So thanks Michael.

    Using our links with local machinery manufacturers and dealerships, namely McHale, Krone and Lely, who donated a baler each for the challenge and New Holland, McElderrys (especially Kevin Gribben), DA Forgie and Clarkes who donated a tractor each... We were soon able to get hold of a fleet any self respecting baler man would be proud of! With the help of these donations, we were able to provide something of interest for everybody - from the dairy farmer right through to the large contractor.

    As Grassmen had been able to secure all of this machinery, it made sense that the challenge would start from the yard of Grassmen HQ. With the 8 strong Grassmen team and the 9 members from the Active Agri Association it was a bit of a scramble getting set off, but as we clocked up the miles and the number of bales made increased, the two teams quickly became one big force to be reckoned with! One man in particular who put up with me very well was Alan, ‘the white van man’ – a week in each other’s constant company was going to be either make or break – but it made it for us pal! Not many people will know this, but during the challenge our TW decided to misbehave and Alan refused to give in and he worked at the old girl the whole night insisting we left him alone to do his thing. So Alan massive thanks for that.

    It wasn’t always easy, and the weather definitely wasn’t always on our side (well, we were in Ireland we didn’t expect much more!) but a huge thank you must go to the farmers who stuck by us to help us get the job done, and to those who came to support us regardless of the weather! Despite the testing conditions, we initially had an aim of raising around €32,000 but I am immensely proud to say that with the support of all involved, the monies raised is in excess of €60,000!

    Of course everyone is ecstatic with that huge total for the two very worthwhile charities, Cancer Fund for Children and the Ronald McDonald House charity, but the awareness that has been raised for the charities is second to none and that was the real aim. Grassmen has links with many charities but we felt it was very important that these two specific charities took centre stage and therefore, although the TW-35 (the tractor that will be raffled off for the Make A Wish Foundation) made an appearance, no raffle tickets were sold throughout the week to give priority to the charities. Again, even with the TW just being there, hopefully we have raised awareness for our charity as well. On that point, I must once again appeal to your generosity, as due to restrictions from the Gambling Commission we have had to drop the price of the raffle tickets from £4/€5 to just £1/€1.25. As you can appreciate, this is going to make it more difficult to exceed the amount we raised for this charity last year (€150,000). If you would like help, tickets may be purchased on www.grassmen.com/ticket-tw-414

    One other massive ‘grass’ charity event that was held in Ireland in May was the ‘Combines for Charity’ forager challenge. We decided to take a back seat as a company in this one but to still support it in a different way. We hauled two foragers from Northern Ireland free of charge and happily stepped out of them until after the event and then delivered them home again. A special thanks (as always!) must go to Michael Hoey for lending his New Scania S Series to aid us with our task. Michael... she’s some machine!

    Since I took over full ownership of Grassmen in 2016, my ambition has been to grow Grassmen from not just a business that sells DVD’s and clothing, but to something where a consumer, who buys one of our products, not only has pride in supporting a team who genuinely gives something back but that they are in fact a part of the GRASSMEN family. I am confident that this approach is working, as it can be seen from the massive increase in our social media side to the business. I firmly believe that if you do things for the right reasons; good things will happen.

    Bring on the next mad challenge!

    Happy Bailing

    Regards

    Donkey

  • VLOG - We’re going to the Royal Welsh Show!

    Check out our latest vlog as we return from another successful Highland Show and get prepared for our first visit to the Royal Welsh Show.

  • VLOG - We’re heading to the Highland Show 2017!

    A quick update as we roll out to the Highland Show 2017.

  • VLOG - The Farmer's Bash Announcement

    Gary tells us about the upcoming event at the SSE Arena, Belfast. With live music from Lisa McHugh and Derek Ryan, it's sure to be a fantastic night.

    The Farmer's Bash. Driven by Grassmen.

  • VLOG - Bailie 315

    An emotional vlog for Donkey and all here at Grassmen, as we dedicate the New Holland 315 to Bailie.

  • VLOG - Valtra 234

  • VLOG - TW Delivered

  • VLOG - Photo Competition

  • Make A Wish

    Hi all!

    As you are all probably more than aware our chosen charity this year is one very close to our hearts here at Grassmen. Make a Wish foundation set out to make the dreams of very sick and terminally ill children come true. This vlog has been put together for everyone who so generously donated their money through the purchasing of raffle tickets this summer. We want you to know exactly what your kindness is helping to achieve. This is what it's all about.

    From everyone at Grassmen, thank you.

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