Charity sheepdog trial will repay family’s debt to life-saving brain surgeons
PUBLISHED: 07:22 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 07:37 29 November 2019
The world’s elite sheepdog trialling community has leapt into action to help a Norfolk enthusiast’s charity event to raise money for the hospital which saved her father’s life.
Sophie Britch, from Wacton near Long Stratton, is holding a charity sheepdog trial on December 28 in aid of the Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust.
Surgeons at the hospital removed a tumour from the base of her father Mike's brain this summer in an operation which risked affecting his memories and other vital functions - but he has made a miraculous full recovery.
Now Miss Britch aims to raise urgently-needed funds to show her family's gratitude.
Her event, hosted by East Anglian Sheepdog Society chairman Ed Thornalley at his farm in Worlingham, near Mildenhall, has attracted more than 40 competitors from all over the country.
But it has also caught the attention of the International Sheepdog Society, which has offered promotional help, while Welsh national champion sheepdog handler Arwyn Davies and three-time world champion Aled Owen are among the individuals and businesses who have donated auction prizes worth more than £5,000.
Miss Britch, who works as a fuel coordinator at agricultural buying co-operative AF Group in Honingham Thorpe, also keeps a small flock of sheep and is training two young Collies which she hopes to start trialling next winter.
"I am a total amateur so to have these people involved is incredible," she said. "I just cannot believe how incredibly generous and kind people have been. It sums up that sense of camaraderie and community.
"The auction prizes are phenomenal and I've got people coming from all over the country to run their dogs. We've got 40 dogs running at the moment but we can take up to 50 and it is still open for bookings until December 8."
She said she was determined to use her passion for sheepdogs to raise money for the hospital.
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"These surgeries cost a large amount of money and I wanted to do something a bit more beneficial than just sending the surgeon a bottle of gin," she said.
"Addenbrooke's itself is in dire need of investment. The hospital is massively under-funded so a lot of their state-of-the-art surgical equipment is actually part-funded by the charitable trust's fundraising rather than grants from central government or the health trusts. So for me it became really important to try and give something back."
- The event on December 28 is free to attend, and there will be a barbecue and a cake stall. Trialling will start from 8.30am and run until around 4pm. Anyone can bid at the silent auction, which will open online from December 1. For full details see tinyurl.com/qqqcun7