A BUSINESSMAN has launched an appeal to raise £50,000 to help farmers hit by foot-and-mouth.

Paul Wignall, managing director of North Yorkshire-based Hilco Europe, has lodged an initial pledge of £5,000 to the newly-created fund.

Mr Wignall said the decision to start the appeal was made after livestock on a farm in Upper Wensleydale were found to have the disease.

He said: "I have been deeply saddened by the sight of a local farmer having to destroy his livelihood which has taken years to build.

"I decided that I couldn't just stand by without any offer of support and I urge other businesses and individuals to join me and pledge their support too."

Hilco, which makes optical accessories, is based in Hawes, just a few miles from the affected farm.

Mr Wignall said the money collected would be handed over to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution to be distributed to farmers who had been affected or fallen victim to foot-and-mouth.

Details on the fundraising plan are available from Mr Wignall on (01969) 667688 or donations can be made to Hilco Farmers Aid, sent to Barclays Bank, Yorkshire Agricultural Banking Team, PO Box 15, Market Place, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5YT