MSP Emma hails re­tired farm­ers’ group

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - COUNTRYSIDE -

A “trail­blaz­ing” group for re­tired farmer work­ers con­tin­ues to go from strength to strength.

The group, which meets ev­ery month in Cas­tle Dou­glas, is an op­por­tu­nity for re­tired farm­ers and farm work­ers to come to­gether for a chat and take part in ac­tiv­i­ties, such as day trips.

It is or­gan­ised by Jill Ren­nie from Alzheimer Scot­land in part­ner­ship with NHS Dum­fries and Gal­loway and is sup­ported by NFU Scot­land and RSABI as part of a wider piece of work of the Health and Well­be­ing in the Farm­ing Com­mu­nity Pro­gramme.

The first meet­ing was held last Novem­ber and the project has been de­scribed as a “won­der­ful idea” by MSP Emma Harper.

Those at­tend­ing in­clud­ing 77-year-old Wil­lie Dun­lop, who lives near Dum­fries. He lost his wife al­most two years ago and ad­mits the meet­ings have helped him make new friends and give him some­thing to look for­ward to:

He said: “When I first heard about the Re­tired Farm­ers Group I thought it was a good idea and af­ter at­tend­ing my first meet­ing I haven’t missed one since.

“We have a right good blether and dis­cuss dif­fer­ent things about farm­ing and other things. I just en­joy the com­pany and hav­ing that op­por­tu­nity to rem­i­nisce a wee bit about farm­ing when we were younger and how things have changed.

Founder Jill Ren­nie said: “It was an idea I had when I be­came aware that there were a num­ber of farm­ers who had re­tired from run­ning the fam­ily farm and had maybe built a new house in a nearby vil­lage and had be­come iso­lated from the farm­ing com­mu­nity.

“At the time I was work­ing for Alzheimers Scot­land in the de­men­tia-friendly com­mu­nity project.

“My idea was to start a so­cial group for peo­ple who had re­tired from farm­ing, in­clud­ing peo­ple with mem­ory prob­lems.

“I was aware that former farm­ers who had maybe stopped go­ing to the marts and didn’t re­ally have any other op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet

peo­ple so­cially.

“Since we started the meet­ings at the end of last year it has grown arms and legs, and we’ve con­tin­ued to meet monthly.

“We ran the pi­lot un­til the end of March un­til the fund­ing ended for the de­men­tia friendly com­mu­nity project, we then re­ceived fur­ther fund­ing to con­tinue and the group in part­ner­ship with NHS Dum­fries and Gal­loway.”

MSP Emma re­cently spoke to the group about her pro­pos­als to tackle live­stock wor­ry­ing.

She said: “I think this was a won­der­ful idea from Jill Ren­nie to or­gan­ise a group for re­tired farm­ers and farm work­ers to come to­gether and share sto­ries from the past and talk about tech­no­log­i­cal tran­si­tions of equip­ment and agri­cul­tural

prac­tice.

“I re­ally en­joyed lis­ten­ing to those in at­ten­dance, in­clud­ing Mr Dun­lop, who brought in some old farm­ing equip­ment and pho­to­graphs which I could re­mem­ber from my child­hood years grow­ing up on a dairy farm.

“Ob­jects and pho­tos are very nos­tal­gic, and are ef­fec­tive in spark­ing lively con­ver­sa­tions and de­bates, par­tic­u­larly help­ing those with mem­ory loss symp­toms.”

“The meet­ings have al­ready been a great suc­cess and I’m de­lighted they have been ex­panded to create a sec­ond group in Car­ruther­stown, which I ex­pect will be the first of many com­mu­ni­ties across the south west of Scot­land to repli­cate Jill Ren­nie’s trail­blaz­ing group in Cas­tle Dou­glas.”

Visit MSP Emma Harper with the Re­tired Farm­ers So­cial Group in Cas­tle Dou­glas

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