TV presenter Sarah Travers was in Bushmills recently to officially open a stunning sunflower field to the public in aid of charity.
Owners Archie and Pearl Linnegan are raising funds for Alzheimer’s Society by offering the chance to walk through the two acre field just off the Whitepark Road.
And every visitor will be allowed to take a sunflower home in memory of a loved one who had dementia, or in tribute to anyone who is living with the condition.
Archie and Pearl have opened the field for charity for the last two years and chose to support Alzheimer’s Society this year because Pearl’s mum Molly Riddell had vascular dementia. Her grandfather Robert Riddell also had dementia.
Former BBC Journalist Sarah Travers visited the beautiful field at the weekend to declare it officially open.
“It is really wonderful that Archie and Pearl have chosen to support Alzheimer’s Society through their sunflower field this year,” said Sarah, who is ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland.
“The sunflowers have been attracting visitors for a number of years now and with Pearl’s personal connection to dementia, it is great that Alzheimer’s Society will benefit this year.
“A visit to the sunflower field is a great day out so I encourage you to support Archie, Pearl and Alzheimer’s Society by visiting over the next few weeks.”
Visitors to the field, which is open seven days a week, have been asked to make a donation in a clearly appointed honesty box.
At weekends Archie and Pearl and members of their church, Holy Trinity Portrush, will be on hand to greet visitors and welcome them to the field.
“It really is a very special place,” said Pearl, who runs a small business with her husband Archie called Aurora, renting wood cabins on their farm.
“Many an evening I will go for a walk through it myself and you can’t help but have a smile on your face.
“Children absolutely love it running through the paths with the sunflowers towering up above them and it’s a great photo opportunity.
“We’ve even had wedding parties coming to take their pictures here.”
The sunflower field is also a hit with local wildlife.
“After their time in bloom we just hand the fields back to nature and the birds feed on the seeds,” Pearl explained.
Bernadine McCrory, Alzheimer’s Society Country Director for Northern Ireland thanked Pearl and Archie for their fundraising efforts.
“We’re so grateful for the backing of our wonderful fundraisers Pearl and Archie and I would encourage everyone to visit this beautiful sunflower field and donate what they can," she said.
“Alzheimer’s Society needs your support now more than ever. The last year has been tough for everyone, but for the 22,000 people with dementia in Northern Ireland, the impact of coronavirus has been catastrophic and every step our fundraisers take will make a huge difference by providing a lifeline for people affected by dementia who have been worst hit.
“We are in awe of amazing supporters like Archie and Pearl whose fundraising efforts help fund our Dementia Connect support services which have been used over five and a half million times since the first lockdown began in March 2020, showing people need us now more than ever.”
The Alzheimer’s Society Northern Ireland Conference 2021 ‘Future of Dementia-Better Together’ is a free online conference that will take place on Tuesday 21 September from 11.45am until 4.30pm.
Speakers will include Department of Health Minister Robin Swann MLA, Advance Care Planning Lead at Department of Health Corrina Grimes, the former Social Care Commissioning Lead (Older People and Adults) on the Health & Social Care Board Seamus McErlean and young onset dementia researcher Emily Wilson.
To view programme and register to attend see the conferences and events section of the Alzheimer’s Society website.
The sunflower field is on the Castlenagree Road just off the Whitepark Road between Bushmills and Ballintoy (2 Castlenagree Road Bushmills BT57 8SW) and is open to the public seven days a week until the beginning of September.