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Farming charity nears £1m milestone as 'influential' Norfolk secretary steps down

Sally Mitchell is retiring as Norfolk county chairman of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). Picture: Lucy.Bellefontaine / RABI

Sally Mitchell is retiring as Norfolk county chairman of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). Picture: Lucy.Bellefontaine / RABI

Lucy.Bellefontaine / RABI

Almost £1m has been raised for farming's charity in Norfolk since 1986, said the organisation's "influential" county secretary as she celebrated her retirement.

Sally Mitchell thanked 250 supporters who attended the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) summer cocktail party, at the Norfolk showground.

She said a total of £947,043.11 had been raised – including £161,000 from the last 33 cocktail parties.

The annual eve-of-show cocktail parties, brainchild of former National Farmers’ Union (NFU) county chairman David Ritchie in 1985, have gone from strength to strength with the support of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

Mrs Mitchell, who started fund-raising for RABI at the Acle NFU dinner dance in 1982, was joint deputy chairman of farming’s charity between 1996 and 2004.

Paul Burrows, RABI’s chief executive, said her leadership had been influential as a trustee over many years. And she had campaigned to enable the charity to help all those in the agricultural industry, including farm staff as the Royal Charter was amended in 1997.

He said her efforts, especially during the world’s worst foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001, when a total of £10m was given by the charity, were also an inspiration.

A former chairman of the charity’s Manson House retirement complex at Bury St Edmunds, she had been closely involved in the latest £6m extension and refurbishment programme.

Mrs Mitchell said Norfolk raised £30,000 last year but a total of £110,000 was given to the charity’s beneficiaries in the county. And highlights of the county’s fund-raising efforts had included the cookbook, Farmers’ Favourites – still in print and costing £4.99 – as well as the Sing for your Supper events and successful bike rides.

Made MBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours, she thanked all those, including her husband, John, and family, for their support over the years.

A hand-carved wooden bench was presented by Sir John White, of the Salle estate, on behalf of the county committee.

An auction further boosted funds by another £3,500, with east Norfolk farmer Luke Paterson, former chairman of Stalham Farmers’ Club, bidding £2,100 for two guns on Sir John’s Salle Park shoot.

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