A farmer who once received support from The Farming Community Network (FCN) is now preparing to cycle from London to Paris to raise funds for the charity.
Julian Cooke (photographed), an arable farmer from Wiltshire, will start his 278-mile, 4-day challenge on Wednesday 19th July.
2 years ago, Julian began to find the pressure of running his farm and the loneliness that can go hand-in-hand with his profession difficult to cope with, and his mental health began to suffer.
The day-to-day demands of the job, the lack of control over industry changes, and the daunting task of planning ahead for the future started to take their toll.
Talking to friends and family rather than bottling up his concerns helped him to see a way forward more clearly, and he credits them with his recovery to a huge extent.
He also spoke to volunteers from The Farming Community Network. FCN volunteers speak the language of farming, have close links with agriculture, and therefore understand the issues farmers regularly face.
Julian has since become an FCN volunteer himself, and his experience and compassion will be invaluable to the organisation.
Julian said: “Farming is an isolating occupation and I think a lot of farmers feel quite unsupported, especially in recent years. In speaking up, I have learnt that anyone can suffer with their mental health at any time and for any reason.”
Another important factor in enabling Julian to improve his well-being was making the time to fit in some physical exercise away from the farm.
He added: “In my younger days I was a keen cyclist, but life took over as the years went by, and I realised the bike had been in the shed for far too long. Taking in some different views and the positive effect that physical activity has on my mental health has made a huge difference to how I now manage and balance my life and my work.”
Julian’s renewed enthusiasm for cycling resulted in him signing up to take part in the London to Paris Cycle Ride. Between the Greenwich Observatory and the Eiffel Tower, he will cover 60-80 miles a day from 19th-23rd July, taking in the Kent countryside and the Somme and Oise regions of Northern France in between.
He has almost doubled his original fundraising target already, and the money raised will help FCN to continue to support farmers and farming families through difficult times.
Alex Phillimore, Head of Communications and Development at The Farming Community Network, said: “We are grateful to Julian for supporting the work of FCN and for his commitment to the charity as a volunteer. In both endeavours, he is highlighting the work that our charity does to support the farming community and is giving something back to the industry. We send our best wishes to him and thank all those who support our work.”
If you would like to support Julian or learn more about his fundraiser, you can visit his fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/julian-cooke2