Re­tired group a great suc­cess

The Galloway News - - COUNTRY SIDE -

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

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