A young farmer who sparked a massive online response after tweeting about her struggles has boosted a mental health charity thanks to a new partnership.
Ffion Hooson, 21, teamed up with Ifor Williams Trailers to star in a new campaign featuring their livestock trailers, with photographs and video being shot on the 180ac family farm, Segrwyd Isa, in Denbigh.
As a result, the company – that has factories at Corwen, Cynwyd, Sandycroft and Deeside Industrial Estate – has donated £1,000 to the DPJ Foundation.
What is the DPJ Foundation?
The charity was set up in 2016 by Emma Picton-Jones in July 2016 after her husband Daniel committed suicide.
The aim of mother of three Emma, from Haverfordwest, in Pembrokeshire, was to raise awareness of mental health conditions among farmers, who are often isolated in rural communities.
Ffion took over the running of the family farm in 2018 after her father, Huw, suffered a serious stroke and spent a month in hospital before being discharged.
She took to Twitter to express her desperation after being overwhelmed by her father’s illness, combined with the bad weather and her new responsibilities.
In her tweet, Ffion said:
I’m 20 years old and farming alone and I am constantly putting a brave hard face on… yet deep down I’m pretty much breaking inside…it’s the most I’ve struggled and no one really understands but I have no choice but to carry on.
It went viral attracting nearly 25,000 likes, 2,700 replies and 2,000 retweets, leading to an online debate about mental health, with many fellow farmers offering their advice.
Father Huw is now home but is not well enough to work so Ffion now single-handedly tends to her flock of Texel sheep and has launched a new venture rearing bull beef for a local dairy farm.
‘I had to jump in at the deep end’
Ffion said: “When Dad fell ill I was just finishing my two-year agriculture course at Llysfasi.
“I was hoping to take over the farm one day but not then and not in those circumstances.
“I had to jump in at the deep end and I had to learn everything, starting at the bottom really.
“I’ve learnt so much since then and come on quite a long way really. I didn’t have any choice.
“It was a big struggle because farming is quite a lonely industry because you’re working alone a lot of the time. It’s hard.
“The DPJ Foundation is a really important charity because they do a lot for farmers.
I’m finding my feet now and learning how to do stuff, how to work my way around things. I’ve come a long way since dad went ill.
“Although Dad can’t work, his mind is all right and he still knows farming, so he provides me with a bit of advice and guidance.”
According to Ffion, she loved doing the photoshoot and filming the video with Ifor Williams Trailers and was hugely grateful for the donation to the DPJ Foundation.
She said: “It was quite a full on day really, but I did enjoy it. It was a very different to my everyday routine.”
Ffion was so impressed with the trailer used for the shoot that she decided to buy one of her own.
“I’ve always wanted one of my own,” she said. “They’re pretty robust, durable and well made. They’re very functional and look smart as well. It will get a lot of good use.”
‘A courageous thing to do’
Samantha Williams, a management support specialist at Ifor Williams Trailers, was full of admiration for Ffion.
She said: “It was clearly a terrible shock for Ffion when her father suffered the stroke and what she has achieved since then has been amazing.
“Reaching out on Twitter and revealing her struggles was a courageous thing to do and it was hugely effective in raising awareness about the stresses of rural life and the mental health issues faced by people working in agriculture.
We know that the DPJ Foundation is a cause that is close to Ffion’s heart, so we felt it was appropriate to make a donation to help fund their vitally important work in supporting people in rural communities across Wales.
“All in all, Ffion is an incredible young farmer, and we wish her the very best for the future.”