Air Ambulance NI‘s agribusiness group is encouraging rural folk to the big smoke for the Mash Direct Belfast City marathon eight-mile walk.

It has been appointed the sole charity for Northern Ireland’s largest event, which sees participation annually of approximately 18,000 people from all over the province, from 2023-2025.

The main marathon event, which will take place on April 30, 2023, involves an eight-mile walk and it’s for this event the agribusiness group is encouraging the farming and agricultural communities to get involved.

Three members from the charity agribusiness group swapped wellie boots for walking shoes to take part in this year’s eight-mile walk with friends and family, and raised over £5,000 for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).  

Air Ambulance NI Agribusiness member, Oonagh Chesney, said: “I took part with my husband and two other farming families.

“Training was easily managed with free walks around our rural locality and allowed the opportunity to have time together as a family. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to participate in a marathon event without having to take on the full distance which just wouldn’t have been manageable for us.

“On the day we enjoyed travelling to the city on the train, great camaraderie and atmosphere at the event as we walked, and a beautiful lunch afterwards.  The walk is perfect for many farmers to get active, enjoy time away from the farm and support a lifesaving cause.

(L to R) Judy King, Jimmy King, Jenny Donald, Gary Donald, Willie Chesney, Oonagh Chesney

“Our agribusiness group would like to encourage ‘rural folk to the big smoke’ and we hope that at least 100 farmers will sign up to the 2023 walk and raise funds for Air Ambulance NI.”

Registration is open now at and early bird registration, which is just £22, is available until the end of November.

Kerry Anderson, head of fundraising at the charity, said: “When you register you will have the option to support Air Ambulance NI.

“Please tick the box and we will be in touch with your digital fundraising pack and your invitation to the helicopter airbase so you can personally see the service you are challenging yourself for and supporting.”

Anderson encouraged all participants to set up a JustGiving page to “maximise fundraising for your air ambulance”, adding that “it could save a life”.