TWO livestock auctions hope to hit the hammer price of £50,000 to help purchase a new portable echocardiogram machine for the new Children’s Heart Centre currently being developed at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. Markethill Livestock Market and Ballymena Livestock Mart, in association with Gleno Young Farmers, will each hold a Christmas Show and Sale of beef cattle, prime lambs and an auction of donated items to raise funds for the charity. This ambitious target will help leading children’s charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust in its work supporting local children and young people living with heart disease in Northern Ireland. The charity has been involved in the development of the Children’s Heart Centre since its conception and will provide financial support to kit out and create a world class, child and family-centred environment within the new centre. In addition to this, the charity also aims to fund a new echocardiogram machine costing in the region of £50,000 with the help of the local farming community. The funding of this new piece of equipment is crucial in ensuring that the children are receiving the best quality treatment possible in a purpose-built centre.Farmers from across Northern Ireland are set to flock to the Markethill Auction on Thursday, November 23 at 7pm, and Ballymena Auction on Thursday, November 30 at 6.30pm.The fundraising idea came from Richard Powell, from Keady, whose daughter Grace has Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Grace, who is now eight, was diagnosed during a neonatal scan and underwent surgical procedures at three and six months of age, before undergoing major heart surgery at the age of five. Richard’s family business W K Powell & Son, along with continued support from many customers, has helped raise funds for Children’s Heartbeat Trust over the past six years with the sale of various cattle. But this year he wanted to do even more, and has teamed up with the livestock markets to hold two charity auctions. Richard has already pledged the first auction prize, on behalf of all who have supported his family business in Keady, by generously donating a Charolais heifer for each of the auctions.Speaking at the launch Richard said: “The Children’s Heartbeat Trust has given our family so much support and help since Grace was born, and throughout her surgeries and treatment. We’ve helped raise funds each year through the sale of various cattle but on hearing about the development of the new Children’s Heart Centre, we wanted to do that bit more. “I approached Hampton Hewitt at Markethill Mart with the idea of holding an auction to raise additional funds for the charity. Hampton came back with the suggestion of teaming with Shaun Irvine from Ballymena Mart to raise the target of £50,000. “I would sincerely like to thank Hampton for his full input and backing, and to Shaun for teaming up with us to raise the funds needed for this vital piece of equipment. Adrian Cassidy, a friend, has also got behind our fundraising by running the Dublin Marathon to raise funds towards our target. I’m grateful for the generous support received to date and with everyone’s input I have no doubt our target can be achieved.”Lynn Cowan, Children’s Heartbeat Trust Fundraiser, said: “The new Children’s Heart Centre will be a dedicated centre for children with CHD right across Northern Ireland, and will help ensure that they receive the best possible care. We are indebted to Richard along with both Ballymena and Markethill livestock markets and Gleno Young Farmers for their incredible support in funding the new echocardiogram machine – an absolutely vital piece of equipment for all cardiac children. “Richard and his family have been so incredibly supportive of the charity’s work, and we are deeply grateful to the markets for joining with Richard to facilitate the auctions, and everyone who has donated auction items.”o An online donation page has been set up for anyone wishing to support this event. Please


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