Ripon Cathedral has hosted the first national memorial service for people in rural communities who have lost their lives in farming accidents or to suicide or other causes during the pandemic.
The ecumenical service led by the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt. Revd. Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, was organised by the Farming Community Network, a charity that supports farmers.
It was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Jo Ropner and officials from the network and the National Farmers’ Union.
Dr Hartley, who is an FCN trustee, said:
“We give thanks for those whose work it is to bring comfort and light, for charities like FCN and its volunteers, for the skilled work of medical staff and our emergency services, for the NFU, and for those who work tirelessly to fundraise and provide vision and leadership to charities and organisations who assist in the farming sector.”
Hope, unity and the need for people across agriculture to come together in support of one another, as part of a community, were highlighted during the service, which recognised the experience of loss felt by all those who have been bereaved.
More than 100 attended last Sunday, either in person or thorough live-streaming, to join in hymns and hear readings and personal accounts of those being remembered.
Following the service, NFU deputy president, Stuart Roberts, said:
“The farming community will always be there to support one another. People are at the heart of farming. FCN and other charities are the people who support people – and that’s why they’re so important.”
Mark Suthern, chair of FCN’s board of trustees, also spoke of the need for the community to support one another through the changes ahead for British agriculture.
The FCN helps about 6,000 farmers and farming families each year with a wide range of issues, including mental health, family disputes, animal disease and financial concerns.
The network’s chief executive, Jude McCann, said:
“The farming community knows all too well the pain that comes following a death due to a farm accident or other tragic circumstance.
“Many of us will know someone personally who has been affected by a farm accident, a death by suicide, cancer, or other tragedies that leave lasting impacts on farming families across the UK.
“We would like to thank everyone who attended, took part and helped to organise our Remembrance Service. We hope it provided an opportunity to recognise those who have died as well as provided support and comfort to those who have been bereaved.”
Anybody who is struggling, or knows somebody who is and would like to speak with someone who understands the pressures of farming life, can contact the FCN on 03000 111 999 (7am-11pm every day of the year) or at [email protected]
Calls are confidential and non-judgemental.