Today, we are really proud to let you know about the new charitable Herdyfund.
It’s actually been part of our business model from the very beginning but up to now has been funded via a percentage of profits from the company. We’re now live with the Herdyfund, which will be managed by the Registered Charity, Cumbria Community Foundation (CCF). We’ll still direct how the fund works but excitingly, it means we can now accept donations for the first time.
Its purpose is to fund, sponsor, interact, help inspire, and support our rural farming communities. It's their guardianship of the Lakeland landscape, with a little help from the Herdwick sheep, that has shaped this place that we all know and love, and it’s what inspired us to create Herdy. We’ve given back from day one - now you can too.
It seems to be the case nowadays, more so than ever before, to expect the unexpected.
Our original plans for the fund reveal got derailed by Storm Emma aka “The Beast From The East”. As reports came in about the devastating impact it had wreaked on farms across the county we agreed with Andy Beeforth OBE, CEO of the Foundation, that the priority should be to help the farmers who had been hardest hit.
We put in a pot of £10,000 and the CCF matched it. The Herdyfund led the way in a relief programme that’s still ongoing now.
We recently visited two of the farmers to listen to their experience of the storm. Cumbrian farmers are nothing if not resilient, quite capable of surviving most things but even they could not compete with the 127mph winds. The combination of the fallen snow and the Helm Wind demolished dry stone walls that had stood for generations. Ewes in lamb were literally frozen to the spot. These farmers battled through 10–15ft snow drifts to try and rescue their animals before getting stuck themselves.
Incredibly some sheep were found alive days later, buried in drifts, but still standing.
Adam Day from the Farmer Network said how much the farmers had appreciated the help from the fund and the most special thing about it to them, was to know that other people actually cared.
The Herdyfund and the future
Whilst our region’s countryside and heritage is admired worldwide, the fell farmers and rural communities who manage and maintain our cultural landscape can sometimes be unseen.
The Herdyfund always has, and will continue to work with, our upland fell farmers and rural communities to create a sustainable future. Our plans for the Herdyfund don’t just include providing funding for dealing with tough situations. We’re working on ideas for this year and beyond where we can come together to interact, share, and inspire, and we’d love you to be with us all the way.
Over the last eleven years we’ve worked on projects from dry stone walling apprenticeships to protecting the Herdwick breed through the Herdwick Genebank project. Our innovative approach has won awards including the Business in the Community award from the Prince of Wales; no wonder we’re excited about how much more we will be able to do if you’re helping too.
Click here if you would like to be involved by making a donation, no matter how small. Our shops will also accept donations very soon, and later in the year we’ll be putting more ways to support and become involved in place. Keep watching this space.