FARMERS in financial hardship can get help from farming's oldest and largest welfare charity.

Sally Conner, North-East regional manager for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), said many have had a difficult year, largely due to the weather.

She said the extremes of spring's storms and floods, followed by the summer drought, caused particular issues and challenges. "People are still playing catch-up, with some livestock farmers forced to feed winter rations to their stock weeks and months in advance.”

Last year, RABI gave out grants of around £2m across England and Wales to people of all ages in financial need. This year in Northumberland, it has paid almost £32,000 to 28 individuals and families – in 2017, grants of £45,009 were given out in the county to 33 families.

A hard-working Northumberland committee is extremely active with James and Pauline Frater recently taking over as joint chairs from Stoker Frater, no relation.

The committee is organising two fundraisers in November. A curry evening will take place at the Char Mausum restaurant on Monday, November 19 (tickets cost £20 and are available via, while a Proms night concert is scheduled for November 30 at the Glendale Hall in Wooler.

Mrs Conner said: “County committees are the lifeblood of RABI and we’re fortunate to have some tremendous people flying the flag for us in Northumberland.

“Nationally, we received 81 referrals/requests for help in August, which is more than a third higher than the same month in 2017. In September, we received a further 56 referrals, of which 38 came from working families. Many cited the weather as a contributing factor for their problems.”

Contact RABI on 0808 281 9490 for more information or help.