Cumbrian marts have helped to raise vital funds for farmers through the donation of live animals.

National farming charity, The Addington Fund, has reported that its new, ground-breaking initiative to raise funds is off to a flying start.

Launched in September, the new scheme, titled 'Tup 1 Ewe', enables sheep farmers to donate live animals through participating auction marts, and nominate the sale proceeds of ewes or lambs to the charity.

Auction marts who have signed up in Cumbria are Hopes of Wigton, Borderway Mart in Carlisle, Longtown Mart, Penrith Mart and J36 Rural Auction Centre.

Draft ewes have been sold at Longtown and J36, along with lambs at the Royal Smithfield Show and Rugby Farmers Market, while CCM Auctions are also donating part of the proceeds of special charity sales staged at its annual Christmas primestock shows last month.

"By early December, we had already raised over £1,200. We intend to run the scheme for at least a full year, as some farmers have opted for selling store or fat lambs next autumn, so we confidently expect more much-needed funds t continue to come our way," said The Addington Fund's chief executive, Ian Bell.

"Farmers can donate a ewe and lamb, or lambs, or they can give the progeny of the ewe as a store or finished lamb. The proceeds will then be sent to the Addington Fund direct from the auction mart and, importantly, the funds raised will support farming families in the region of the market," he added.

Funds will predominantly go to the provision of housing for farmers who are forced to leave their homes, though in certain counties, the charity also offer affordable housing to anyone currently work in, or retired from an agricultural or a land-based industry.

"Livestock farmers should look out for details at their local market or ask their auctioneer. This project represents a simple and practical method of backing a worthy cause. Remember a donation of a single animal could make a huge difference to someone's future," said Mr Bell.

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The ARC-Addington Fund was founded in 2001 as the Churches' response to the outbreak of Food and Mouth Disease. The charity also helped farmers in need during the heavy snowfalls in Cumbria in 2013.