At three years old, Linzi Nelson’s son, Stuart, had his life cut short in a tragic accident on their family farm in Crossgates, Fife.

On day two of Farm Safety Week, Linzi shares her heartbreaking story of what happened that day and reveals why losing a son is an experience no mother wants to speak about.

She and her husband Richard are slowly learning how to exist again as a young family on a busy working farm.

“Stuart always loved being on the farm,” she said. “I don’t come from a farming background, Richard does – and that’s where Stuart felt most at home.

I quietly hoped that Stuart would head off when he was older and study to become a doctor or a lawyer but that was never going to happen.

“His face would just light up when Richard invited him to take a walk around the farm. It’s where he was happiest.

farm safety

Stuart Nelson

“I know that farmyards are not playgrounds. We’re a young family and don’t have a lot of support nearby so there were some times when we had no choice but to take Stuart with us when we were particularly busy but we always tried to make sure he was safe and supervised.”

Farm accident

The terrible irony of this statement is that on that fateful day in February 2017, Richard had refused to take Stuart as a passenger in the cab of the farm’s forklift as he knew this wasn’t good working practice.

Richard left the three-year-old playing near the grain pile and started his task.

What happened next changed Linzi and Richard’s lives forever.

Stuart heard the sound of the engine starting up and ran to see his Dad in action and, unfortunately, into the path of the reversing vehicle.

The days following the tragedy saw Linzi, who was 21 weeks pregnant with baby number two, experience extreme scrutiny but she knew that there was still a working farm to run.

“You get up every day but some days you’re just not there,” she said. “It’s taken a horrendous experience to put life in perspective.”

‘The unthinkable can happen in a matter of seconds’

She hopes that by sharing their story she will inspire other families with young children to really give deep thought how they can be practical and realistic about farming safely.

“The farm can be a magical place for children, but it can also be a dangerous place where the unthinkable can happen in a matter of seconds,” she added.

“Even when time is of the essence, take a minute to think about what could go wrong. This is the time you have to make for yourself and your family and time that you will never get back – believe me, I know.”

Stephanie Berkeley who heads up the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week, said: “Skipping the extra-rider experience is not easy for anyone – especially eager young farmers.”

Farm safety

“Farm machinery can be a tempting playground for young children on farms, but children can fall, cut themselves on sharp edges, or worse,” Berkeley added.

“That extra seat in the combine and tractor cab? It’s not a buddy seat designed for small children and there are several examples of cab doors opening, glass shattering and children perishing.

A little disappointment and inconvenience in exchange for a safer farm experience for your child is worth it.

“Always remember that young eyes are watching and learning from you — they do what you do. If you make a habit of wearing a helmet, a seatbelt, or taking time to properly assess a task they will, too.”