Sleepy the Sheep sale raises £19,000 for NI Air Ambulance in memory of dad of four

Raising nearly £20,000 at auction must make Sleepy one of the most expensive sheep ever bought at auction in Northern Ireland.

He was raised as a pet lamb by 15-year-old Georgia Hamilton and her dad Christie on their farm near Clady.

But tragedy struck last September when Christie suddenly fell ill in front of Georgia and her three younger sisters as the family prepared sheep to take to market.

The Air Ambulance responded within minutes but the 41-year-old passed away from a suspected heart attack.

A few weeks later Georgia decided to sell Sleepy at Donemana Mart to raise money for the Air Ambulance

“Daddy was going to sell him anyway so I decided I would for Air Ambulance,” Georgia told UTV, “I was expecting £150 but the bidding kept going and going.”

Mum Joanne said: “It would go to £500 and the next thing Sleepy was in the ring again. So each farmer was putting him back in for sale and he was going for £400, £500 each time.”

Sleepy was eventually sold in the ring for £11,800 while additional donations collected from other well wishers at the Mart brought the amount raised to over £19,000.

The fundraiser became a show of support from the local community for the Hamilton family and for the Air Ambulance.

Joanne said the generosity has been overwhelming.

She added: “The Air Ambulance means a lot to the rural community because it  also attends a lot of farm accidents. But we are also completely blown away by the love and support shown. That gets us through these difficult days.”

Joanne took a photograph on her mobile phone at 4.06pm of September 2nd as she and Christie moved the sheep with their four girls, Georgia, Sarah-Jane, Eva and Annie.

It’s a picture she says she will always cherish as it captured the last time they would all be together.

“Just one minute later, at 4.07 I made the 999 call, it was the moment that everything changed forever.”

Joanne has  thanked all the emergency services as well as neighbours who rushed to help Christie when he collapsed just yards from their house.

As well as the sale of Sleepy other donations have poured in and nearly £30,000 in total has been raised  for the Air Ambulance.

The last bid on Sleepy was made by 6-year-old Alanagh Daly and her dad who took the young ram home to their farm near Gortin.

Alanagh is the youngest of four girls.

Georgia says she’s glad  that her pet lamb and her dad’s favourite sheep has found a good home.

“I was happy because that is a house of four girls as well, so it’s  the same thing for Sleepy again, he’ll be well looked after.”

Working with the sheep helped bond the Hamilton family together.

It’s a pastime they'll continue in memory of Christie.

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