LAST Wednesday was Back British Farming Day and the NFU’s Community Farming Hero Awards recognised some remarkable people from the farming community who had made significant contributions to rural life beyond their agricultural businesses. I was privileged to nominate Lynda and Andy Eadon from Napton in the Warwickshire section and I was delighted to see them win the West Midlands award.
On last New Year’s Day, Lynda and Andy’s son Len took his own life, aged 22.
There had been no warning signs. Most of us can only imagine the shock and anguish they have experienced, yet Lynda and Andy have been determined to make something positive of a terrible family tragedy. They have already done a huge amount to raise awareness of mental health challenges, in particular among the young in the farming community, raising more than £80,000 and producing a card anyone can carry listing 5 simple things you can do to assess your own mental health and that of those around you, along with contact details for those who can help.
Lynda and Andy know from personal experience how important mental health is and how important it is to recognise and help early those who are struggling. Anyone can face tough times, but farming can be an especially isolating occupation, and rural life has its own challenges which can make it difficult to spot those in distress, who may themselves find it hard to identify and ask for help.
Some of the money Lynda and Andy have raised has gone to support the Farming Community Network, who I know do great work in this area, along with the NFU itself. Education is also a priority. Landbased Colleges and Universities are training the next generation of farmers and I share Lynda and Andy Eadon’s enthusiasm for the inclusion of mental health awareness in the courses they offer.
Work is already being done in this field, as the Farm Safety Foundation already deliver a farm safety module as part of those courses, which addresses mental health in recognition that better wellbeing leads to better farm safety, but there is more to be done. I will help in any way I can and I pay tribute to Lynda and Andy for their bravery, their dedication and their commitment to the welfare of an important part of our community.
Samaritans – call on 116 123 (24 hours a day)
SANEline – call on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm-10.30pm)
Shout – text SHOUT to 85258 (24 hours a day)
Mind – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (Monday-Friday 9am-6pm)
NHS Mental Health Services – gain advice from 111
Papyrus – www.papyrus-uk.org
The Farming Community Network – fcn.org.uk/
NFU – www.nfuonline.com/