Retired group a great success
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 farm-related activities such as day trips and hearing from guest speakers.
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 that brings the farming community and key partner organisations together to tackle health and wellbeing concerns.
The first meeting was held last November and the project has been described as a “wonderful idea” by south of Scotland MSP Emma Harper.
Those attending included 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.”
Group founder, Jill Rennie, said: “The group started back in November and 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, 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 Harper 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.”
She added: “In any profession the adjustment to life after work can be a real shock to the system but for those working in agriculture who have their job in their blood and are used to running the farm 24/7 it can be especially difficult.
“It would be natural to feel very lonely and isolated which is why it’s so important that these sort of groups exist.
“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.”
Welcome South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper visited the Retired Farmers Social Group in Castle Douglas last month