Livestock Marts help illuminate Len’s Light Tractor Relay and campaign
31st July 2023
Markets across the country support mission to raise greater awareness of mental health issues within the farming community
Livestock markets across the country have helped shine a light on mental health awareness within the rural community, in support of the incredible efforts of Len’s Light Tractor Relay, a month-long, nationwide journey helping to break down the stigma attached to suicide and mental health.
Lynda and Andy Eadon, who tragically lost their son Len to suicide aged 22, have since been campaigning to raise national awareness to the mental health issues that affect people in the rural community.
Since Len’s death in 2022, the couple have helped raise over £100,000 for charities in their son’s name, and the latest initiative saw Andy drive a donated John Deere tractor across England, Wales and Scotland, with the route taking in some 38 livestock markets along the way.
At the culmination of the epic 2000-mile relay at Land’s End on 20 July, Lynda and Andy reflected on their efforts, and feel that every mile has been worthwhile.
“We have had tremendous support from the agricultural community throughout Great Britain,” says Andy, who also explains why they focused their tour around livestock markets.
“Both Lynda and I chose to engage with livestock markets because we appreciate the key role they play as rural hubs, often being the only place for some farmers to interact with others during the week,” he says.
As Lynda states, the aim is very much to encourage conversation and help people to reach out for help when it is needed, and the mart provides the hub where people have access to that support.
“We have really seen communities come out of their shell, and along the way have had some very poignant conversations and heart-felt moments with others who have been affected by mental health or suicide,” she says.
Lynda and Andy have been overwhelmed by the support they have encountered at the livestock markets the tractor has visited.
“Every market we visited built on their role as a rural hub, with many going above and beyond to engage with their local community and share the message of the Len’s Light Tractor Relay,” says Andy.
Markets across the route organised events, charity auctions and activities to not only help raise awareness, but also vital funds.
As well as supporting the three designated registered charities, the Farming Community Network, Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies) and Papyrus, many marts also raised funds for local rural support charities.
Examples of some of the fundraising achieved along the way included £1295 raised from the sale of a sheep with lamb at foot, along with over £200 in cash donations around the mart at Bentham.
Elsewhere, the donation of the proceeds of a Limousin heifer at Frome Livestock Market, to the value of £1450, was further supplemented with proceeds from a raffle, cake sale and other donations.
Louth Livestock Market raised £3230.78 hosting a charity evening, welcoming Lynda and Andy during a non-market day, also gaining coverage on regional television. Melton Mowbray Market raised a grand total of £4804 through various activities, including donated lambs auctioned off in the weekly sale.
Leek Auctions Ltd sponsored a gathering at Folker Grange Farm, where some 500 people welcomed Lynda and Andy, raising just over £8,000 through various activities, including the opportunity to throw wet sponges at company directors!
This is just a snapshot of the support provided along the route, and while donations are still coming in from the activities across the marts, the figure is already well in excess of £30,000, from just 17 markets so far.
Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) says, “We wholeheartedly support and applaud the efforts of Lynda and Andy to raise awareness to mental health issues, while they still come to terms with the loss of their son.
“We have always recognised the mart’s crucial role, and responsibility, in providing that support hub and network, creating an environment where the rural community can turn to in times of need.
“The support that our member companies, and indeed their customers, have provided along the Len’s Light Tractor Relay route, really encapsulates that commitment. We wish Lynda and Andy well in their continued efforts, and will continue to support their campaign,” he adds.
Andy and Lynda, who farm in Napton, Warwickshire, say this is really just the start of Len’s Light, but feel their mission for the tractor relay was more than accomplished.
“The role markets have played during the relay, and the events they have put on, really demonstrates the strength of the livestock market industry,” says Andy.
“Not only that, the response we have received, the money raised and more importantly the conversations we have been having, means this is just the start as we continue to campaign to raise more awareness across local rural communities,” he adds.
Len's Light is a tribute and legacy for Len Eadon who, in his short life, touched the hearts of so many. You can help to raise awareness and funds through https://leneadon.muchloved.com/