Paul Ferry Charity Steer Auction

Cattle Farmer Donates $300K to Heart Disease

The show must go on - cattle farmer donates almost $300,000 to heart disease

7 May 2020

At a time of great uncertainty, humanity often rallies together to do the most amazing things. You’ll see random acts of kindness, thoughtful gestures for a neighbour, and you’ll see wonderful acts of generosity like this one from veteran farmer, Mr Paul Ferry and his lovely wife Valerie.

At heart, Mr Ferry is just a regular Aussie bloke who, until recently, would spend his days at Abingdon Station in Gundagai, where he bred 1,300 Angus cattle on his historic property.

Only he’s no ordinary bloke to us. Mr Ferry is one of the kindest and most generous people the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has ever had the privilege of knowing. And his actions in the past few days have confirmed this yet again…

Cattle auction at the Royal Easter Show

Every year in March or April, Sydney plays host to the Royal Easter Show. And every year for the past 11 years, Mr Ferry pulls on his dusty blue jeans, turns up to the Cattle Auction and quietly waits for his moment.

He sits up the very back of the amphitheatre as hundreds of ribbon winning steers are shown around the auction ring. In the crowd are buyers from Woolworths and Coles, farmers and butchers, who all know good stock when they see it, and the raucous sales come thick and fast.

Mr Ferry continues to wait, until at last, a heavyweight steer is led into the arena, uniquely draped in a bright blue rug with large lettering that reads - Schute Bell Charity Steer.

Paul Ferry places the winning bid at the 2016 auction

There’s no need for shushing, the entire crowd falls silent on its own, leaning forward on the plastic seats to get a good look at the 600-kilo beast.

You see, there’s something special about the Schute Bell Charity Steer. It’s been hand raised from a calf by country school kids, who are charged with feeding, watering, brushing, clipping, washing and training the steer, to give them a deep understanding of livestock health and welfare. It’s all in preparation for the grand unveiling at the Royal Easter Show where it will be sold to the highest bidder to raise funds for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Back in the amphitheatre the Auctioneer commands the stage and signals the start. The bidding erupts. It’s frantic and frenzied. There’s yelling and hollering between the buyers and the price of the steer goes up and up.

But no matter how much it rises, Mr Ferry keeps on bidding. When the Auctioneer’s hammer finally comes down, cheers and whistles explode from the stadium.

Students from Murrumburrah High with the Charity Steer

They’re cheering for the steer, they’re cheering for the school kids, but most of all they’re cheering for Mr Paul Ferry.

For 11 years running, Mr Ferry has been the winning bidder of the Schute Bell Charity Steer, donating roughly $300,000 towards medical research and the fight against heart disease.

In 2020, due to Coronavirus, the Royal Easter Show was cancelled, and it seemed the hardworking school kids and Schute Bell would be deprived of the opportunity to make their own contribution to the Institute for this year.

But Mr Ferry wouldn’t have it, his moment had come again. He picked up the phone, called Schute Bell and said;

“Why haven’t you called? I don’t care that the Show was cancelled, of course I’m going to buy the steer!”

He hung up and signed a cheque for $20,000 made out to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. When the students from St Stanislaus College found out that Mr Ferry was purchasing the steer for a 12th consecutive year they couldn’t believe it.

Teacher Alex Clements and John Gray from Schute Bell with the Charity Steer

Their teacher, Alex Clements (pictured above), was “blinking back the tears”. “How does a man that’s never even seen the beast in real life pay that much money for something? It’s extraordinary.”

“The Charity Steer is such a great thing that we’re all part of. And everyone has this warm feeling that all of us as an industry are doing something really positive for a worthwhile cause. No matter your involvement, you get swept up in the emotion,” Alex reveals.

To that, Mr Ferry confides:

“My wife and I strongly believe in the cause and I believe in what Dr Victor Chang was meant to represent at the Easter Show. I am committed to see that the show goes on for years to come no matter the challenges the world might face.”

1888 Certified Butcher - Charity Sale Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Like I said, Mr Ferry is no ordinary bloke.

And now, like COVID-19, it seems Mr Ferry’s generosity is infectious.

1888 Certified in Double Bay has just committed to selling the produce and donating all proceeds to the Institute, ensuring that despite no Easter Show, the 2020 Schute Bell Charity Steer will be one of the most charitable on record.

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For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Julia Timms
Head, Media & Communications
0457 517 355

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years