A bright spring flower used as a symbol for the cancer fundraiser Daffodil Day could just as easily be gobbled up by a herd of cows.

But every year for the last 20 years, Levin couple John and Jeny Brown have locked up a huge paddock next to their house and kept the stock off it to protect hundreds of daffodil flowers coming into bloom.

That's because the Browns wanted to do their bit to support the Cancer Society in their annual appeal by donating the flowers. They had supplied daffodils to the fundraiser for the last 20 years.

In recent years they had leased the farm, but with a condition that stock grazed the daffodil paddock off in time to let the flowers come away again in time for Daffodil Day.

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Mrs Brown bought new bulbs during the year, every year, to plant in the huge paddock that was next to their house.

"I look out for when they are on special," she said.

The field of daffodils at John and Jeny Brown's farm in Levin.
The field of daffodils at John and Jeny Brown's farm in Levin.

Levin Cancer Society Supportive Care co-ordinator Jennie Wylie said the Browns were one of small group of suppliers that grew daffodils each year specifically to donate to the fundraiser.

"We've been blessed with growers that do it year after year," she said.

Wylie said the contribution of the daffodil growers was just one arm of the appeal that saw communities throughout New Zealand band together to make it a success and to support the Cancer Society, in what was the 30th anniversary of Daffodil Day.

There was a chain of goodwill along the way, from the people who collected the flowers, to those who put them in bunches, then the volunteers that gave of their time to exchange the flowers for donations.

"The help we have from the community is huge to what we do, from the growers and volunteers to the businesses and school and community groups that help," she said.

The appeal galvanised a host of community-minded organisations like Rotary, Lions, schools and rural groups in distributing and collecting for the appeal, joining an estimated 11,000 volunteers involved nationwide.

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Wylie said Horowhenua was blessed with volunteer groups only too willing to be involved.

"It is very unique and well sourced in that respect," she said.

Levin farmers John and Jeny Brown grow a field of daffodils which they donate each year to the appeal.
Levin farmers John and Jeny Brown grow a field of daffodils which they donate each year to the appeal.

Meanwhile, organisers were having to deal with the impacts of Covid-19 social distancing rules on traditional collection methods for the appeal this year, as under alert level 2 there would be no door-to-door collection.

No cash was changing hands either. Only "contactless" donations could be accepted, to help stop the potential spread of the coronavirus.

"Germs are spread through cash," she said.

However, virtual daffodils were for sale online and donations could also be made by visiting the Manawatū Cancer Society social media page, by downloading the ANZ app, or by visiting their base at Winchester House in Winchester St, Levin.

Donations could also be made at designated flower stalls observing social distancing rules at the Levin Mall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week.

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Wylie said the annual appeal was vital to their organisation and meant they could continue to support people with cancer and their families in a host of different ways, from counselling, therapy, workshops, or providing transport to hospital for treatment.

Every dollar made a difference, she said. By the end of 2020, an estimated more than 26,000 New Zealanders will be diagnosed with cancer.

Donations could also be made at www.daffodilday.org.nz or at any ANZ branch.