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Tractor tours 2,000 miles to help break down mental health stigma

UK livestock markets have raised thousands of pounds for mental health charities, in support of Len’s Light Tractor Relay – which saw a Warwickshire farming couple travel 2,000 miles in honour of their son, who died by suicide last year.

A group shot of people who attended a charity evening at Louth Livestock Market. They are holding a sign that reads: 'Do it for Len... Stay safe and talk'.

Louth Livestock Market raised £3,230 as part of the Len’s Light Tractor Relay, through hosting a charity evening.

Andy and Lynda Eadon, who farm in Napton, Warwickshire, toured 38 livestock markets across England, Scotland and Wales in a donated John Deere tractor last month.

The month-long, nationwide journey aimed to break down stigma around suicide and mental health and encourage people to seek help when they need it.

Andy and Lynda tragically lost their son Len to suicide aged 22. Since his death last year, they have raised over £100,000 for charities in their son’s name and campaigned to raise awareness of mental health issues in rural communities.

Explaining why they chose to focus on livestock markets for the relay, Andy said: “We appreciate the key role they play as rural hubs, often being the only place for some farmers to interact with others during the week.”

Lynda added: “We have really seen communities come out of their shell, and along the way have had some very poignant conversations and heart-felt moments with others who have been affected by mental health or suicide.”

Picture of the John Deere tractor used in the relay parked in London. Pictured are: Hugh Brown, CEO of Melton Mowbray Market; Lynda and Andy Eadon; and Scott Ruck, auctioneer and head of sales at Melton Mowbray Market.

Pictured l-r: Hugh Brown, CEO of Melton Mowbray Market; Lynda and Andy Eadon; and Scott Ruck, auctioneer and head of sales at Melton Mowbray Market.

Livestock markets went “above and beyond”

The couple said they were overwhelmed by the support they received from livestock markets. Markets across the route organised events, charity auctions and activities to not only help raise awareness, but also vital funds.

As well as supporting the three designated registered charities, the Farming Community Network, Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) and Papyrus, many marts also raised funds for local rural support charities.

While donations are still coming in from the activities across the marts, the figure is already well in excess of £30,000, from just 17 markets so far.

Examples of some of the fundraising achieved include:

  • £1,295 raised from the sale of a sheep with lamb at foot, along with over £200 in cash donations around the mart at Bentham
  • £1,450 from the donation of the proceeds of a Limousin heifer at Frome Livestock Market. This was supplemented with proceeds from a raffle, cake sale and other donations
  • £3,230 was raised by Louth Livestock Market who hosted a charity evening, welcoming Lynda and Andy during a non-market day, and also gaining coverage on regional television.
  • £4, 804 was raised by Melton Mowbray Market through various activities, including donated lambs auctioned off in the weekly sale
  • £8,000 was raised by Leek Auctions Ltd, who sponsored a gathering at Folker Grange Farm, where some 500 people welcomed Lynda and Andy. Activities included the opportunity to throw wet sponges at company directors!

Just the beginning

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) commented: “We wholeheartedly support and applaud the efforts of Lynda and Andy to raise awareness to mental health issues, while they still come to terms with the loss of their son.

“We have always recognised the mart’s crucial role, and responsibility, in providing that support hub and network, creating an environment where the rural community can turn to in times of need.

“The support that our member companies, and indeed their customers, have provided along the Len’s Light Tractor Relay route, really encapsulates that commitment. We wish Lynda and Andy well in their continued efforts, and will continue to support their campaign.”

Reflecting on the relay, Andy concluded: “The role markets have played during the relay, and the events they have put on, really demonstrates the strength of the livestock market industry,” says Andy.

“Not only that, the response we have received, the money raised and more importantly the conversations we have been having, means this is just the start as we continue to campaign to raise more awareness across local rural communities.”

Len’s Light is a tribute and legacy for Len Eadon who, in his short life, touched the hearts of many. You can help to raise awareness and funds through https://leneadon.muchloved.com/


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