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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Carlisle charity auction given a tartan twist

Is it a hedgehog, a pig, chicken, sheep, rabbit or drunken cow?

No – it’s a traditional Scottish dish served up in different guises as an amusing sideshow at a farmers’ charity event in Carlisle.

Five auctioneers from north and west Cumbria and an NFU official entered into the Burns spirit and indulged in some friendly competition for the best dressed haggis.

The tartan twist brought hoots of laughter from the crowd, who saw Penrith auctioneer John Wharton win with his ‘upside-down’ cow.

They were also invited to write an address to their haggis.

Wearing a kilt and tartan Tam O’ Shanter, John said: “I am absolutely elated to win. My cow has had a drop too much of the hard stuff, but didn’t let me down. I am not a competitive person at all!”

Earlier all six had been piped into the Exhibition Hall at Borderway Mart to the bagpipes played by Nigel Bell from Harelaw, near Canonbie.

A member of the Langholm Pipe Band, Nigel said: “I must admit I have played in some unusual places but this one beats them all.”

The compere was Gordon Swindlehurst of BBC Radio Cumbria with champion of real food in Cumbria Annette Gibbons acting as judge.

“It’s been great fun. A really inventive idea for an event that does have its serious side raising money for worthwhile charities,” said Annette.

Organisers had expected more than 400 to travel to the city for the event, expected to top the £30,000 it made five years ago.

Earlier in the main ring, John Wharton successfully bid for one donation – a young Billy goat. “It’s for my godson Tom Armstrong who’s three,” said John.

It is more than 30 years since Cumbria’s first Farmers’ Charity Auction, and since then they have raised tens of thousands of pounds.

This is the first time that there has been a Scottish theme. Highlights of the auction included tickets for the Scotland v England rugby match at Murrayfield, which raised £400.

One of the more unusual, and sobering offerings donated by a firm of solicitors, was the writing of two wills for a couple, which went for £300.

“Everyone has been so generous. Bags of potatoes have been fetching £15, and a bag of carrots went for £18,” said auction chairman Nick Utting.

“The Burns-style entertainment provided extra colour to the whole day.”

The money raised will be donated to Hospice at Home, Life Education Centres, The Farming Community Network, Headway – the brain injury association – and The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

Marts that supported the auction included Harrison and Hetherington in Carlisle, Cumberland and Dumfriesshire at Longtown, Hopes of Wigton and Mitchells, Cockermouth.

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