Comedian Jim Smith, RHET Chairman George Lawrie and auctioneer Ross Fotheringham - along with Curly Sue, who fetched a whopping £30,000 on the night (Photo: Craig Stephen)
Scotland’s countryside education charity, RHET, held its first ever Gala Dinner and Auction at the Royal Highland Centre last Friday night and raised in excess of £90k, with further pledges still being received.
Over 450 people enjoyed a three-course meal of Scottish produce, comedy from well-known farmer and comedian Jim Smith and a fast-paced auction which included over 90 fantastic prizes donated from across Scotland. Prizes included spa breaks, a holiday to Mauritius, an ice-cream making experience, cottage stays, bull semen and much much more! The amazing Curly Sue, a Highland Cow sculpture made by Kev Paxton, made a hugely significant contribution to the fundraising, thanks to a particularly generous bid from Audrey Baxter.
RHET operates throughout Scotland via its network of 12 Countryside Initiatives, each managed by an area project co-ordinator. The charity works with volunteers to provide free educational activities and experiential learning opportunities for Scotland’s children. Arranging farm visits and classroom education and providing teacher training and educational resources, RHET’s purpose is to bring farming and the working countryside and its practices to life for young people. All monies raised from the dinner and auction will go towards funding these endeavours.
Every academic year, RHET takes more than 16,500 children onto farms and estates throughout Scotland and over 28,000 pupils have a farmer come and talk in their school.
At the Royal Highland Show in June each year, RHET accommodates roughly 300 school groups on the Thursday and Friday and provides educational activities for the general public on the Saturday and Sunday of the Show.
It currently costs in the region of £400k per annum to deliver RHET services. The Scottish Government have pledged £180k towards these costs for the next three years but all other monies need to be raised through fundraising activities such as the Gala Dinner.
Katrina Barclay, RHET Executive Officer, said:
“In the words of one of the children we recently took on farm, this fundraising total is ‘mindblowing’!
“I am so grateful to all those who donated the prizes, all those who came along to the dinner and all those who bid on the auction lots. It is all of you who have turned this Gala Dinner goal into reality.
“I believe that the children of Scotland deserve to learn where their food comes from and how our farmers grow that food with such care and attention. The money we have raised in our 21st birthday year will help us to continue working with these amazing children. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”