Minister of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Mark Spencer, has shown his support for farming and rural communities by driving a tractor around Parliament Square in London, and into the Houses of Parliament.

He was taking part in one segment of the Len’s Light Tractor Relay, which was set up this year by Lynda and Andy Eadon in memory of their son Len, who died by suicide in January 2022.

Working with the Farming Community Network, Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) and Papyrus, the relay aims to raise awareness and funds to support farmers’ mental health.

Commenting, Minister Spencer said: “It’s hugely important that we raise awareness of the mental health impacts in farming and rural communities and I’d like to pay tribute to all those charities and individuals, including Lynda and Andy, who are working tirelessly to bring this to light.

“I’m honoured to have played even just a small part in this goal by getting behind the wheel today, and will continue to do all I can to ensure farmers can access the support they need, including through our Future Farming Resilience Fund and ongoing work with charities such as Yellow Wellies.”

Len’s Light

The relay began at John O’Groats on June 20, with a tractor that had a specifically designed beacon to light up the route ahead which will come to a finish at Land’s End on July 23.

It stopped at livestock markets and machinery depots around the UK to spark conversations around mental health with farmers and others living in rural communities, as well as raising awareness at large agricultural events including the Royal Highland Show.

“Len’s Light is a nationwide journey reaching out to everyone in the rural community with the message that no one in the rural community should feel isolated and alone,” organisers Lynda and Andy Eadon said.

“Len’s Light Tractor Relay would not have started if we had not reached out for support from Sir Jeremy Wright MP, Mark Spencer MP, Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation, and the NFU [National Farmers’ Union] team – especially Minette Batters and George Bostock,” they added.

“With the help of everyone, we will continue to talk about positive mental health in the rural community which hinges around talking, listening and honesty.”

“As an industry we’ve got to make greater strides to talk openly about our mental health and well-being,” NFU president Minette Batters said.

“We’re encouraging the farming community to start a conversation with a neighbour, friend or family member. It really could make a huge difference.

“I applaud the bravery of Andy and Lynda Eadon who have worked so tirelessly to shine a light on achieving positive mental health in farming and rural communities,” she added.

“Having lost their own son, they’re both doing all they can to ensure no one in the countryside feels isolated or alone. The Len’s Light tractor relay is an extraordinary and emotional journey by a couple who are determined to make a difference to mental health and well-being.

“On behalf of the NFU we wish them all the very best on their onward journey.”

The funds and donations from the relay help to pay for “potentially life-saving calls, text and emails” from helpline services, Ged Flynn, chief executive of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide explained.

Dr. Jude McCann, chief executive officer of The Farming Community Network (FCN), added: “No matter what pressures you may be facing, FCN and other farm support charities are here to help people find a positive way forward.

“None of us should feel alone – we are part of a supportive community that is here to listen, support and help.”