Laois Kilkenny tractor man honoured for his epic vintage Ferguson tractor voyage

Leinster Express Reporter

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Paul Palmer pictured with family and friends

A tractor man from the Laois/Kilkenny border has been honoured for an epic 32 County Vintage Tractor Challenge to increase organ donor awareness.

Paul Palmer along with his family, members of the community of Ballyouskill and Ballinakill and supporters attended a civic reception hosted by the Mayor of Kilkenny Peter Cleere at City Hall this week.

The event was held to honour Paul and his community’s outstanding positive spirit in rallying together to support the Irish Kidney Association in raising organ donor awareness through a 32 county ‘Ferguson 20/32 Challenge’.

The challenge involved Paul travelling the length and breadth of the country spanning the 32 counties in his 63-year-old vintage tractor pulling a bespoke wagon crafted by Paul, family, friends and members of the community, which was branded with organ donor message.

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Paul comes home to Ballyouskill. Picture: Pat Moore

The Challenge commenced at Kilkenny Castle on July 28 and was completed five weeks later when Paul and his tractor and wagon rolled into Ballyouskill on August 31.

Paul was motivated to take on the challenge after seeing the plight of a relative with organ failure. The whole community rallied around this important cause and although Paul’s primary focus with the Challenge was to increase organ donor awareness, it raised in excess of €5,700 for the Irish Kidney Association.

Speaking at the reception Paul thanked everybody who helped to make his epic run a success.  

“I would like to thank the people of Ballyouskill and everyone involved in the challenge who deserve huge credit for their support. There were so many people involved from Ballyouskill that I will not mention their names although I would like to mention my wife Frances and three daughters Grace, Rachel and Gemma who are here tonight with me for this special occasion. 

"I feel honoured to be part of such a wonderfully supportive community and I would not have been able to undertake the Challenge were it not for them. I would like to thank everyone who supported the Challenge including all the people I met in the towns and villages from all over the country over the five-week journey.

"I was delighted to be able to distribute donor cards along the way and help share the message about the importance of organ donation and hopefully it will result in more lives being saved through transplantation,” he said.

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Mayor Cleere said a civic reception is the highest honour the Mayor of Kilkenny can bestow and it was fitting that Paul, his family, friends and neighbours be acknowledged in this way. The Mayor praised their community spirit and their determination to support such an important and life-saving cause in raising organ donor awareness.

Pat Comerford, a relative and close friend of Paul’s helped organise the challgenge. He thanked Mayor Cleere for hosting the civic reception and he echoed the Mayor’s words in praising the community of Ballyouskill for rallying behind the challenge and demonstrating such a positive community spirit.

He also thanked members of the Laois and Kilkenny branches of the Irish Kidney Association for their support as well as its national PRO, Gwen O’Donoghue from Tullamore.

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Homecoming night in Ballyouskill. PICTURE: Pat Moore

Pat also referred to a few people from outside the area who enthusiastically came behind the Challenge including another friend of Paul’s, Ger Dunphy from Ballinakill, Co Laois a geography teacher at Heywood Community School, who planned and charted the 1500km challenge route for Paul. 

Laois photographer Alf Harvey was also commended for his voluntary support in taking photos which could be shared on social and print media from the launch event in the Wheel Inn, the departure event at Kilkenny Castle and some of the stops which Paul made along the way including the National Ploughing Championships.

Paul Palmer took a break from his 20/32 Tractor Challenge to see his daughter Grace off to the Heywood CS Debs. Pic: Alf Harvey

Pat also thanked the media for helping spread awareness about the challenge and organ donor awareness by highlighting the event in print and broadcast event.

For organ donor cards freetext DONOR to 50050 or log on to www.ika.ie 

Pictured below the homecoming cake.